Champion Petfoods, an Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based maker of premium pet food brands Orijen and Acana, has initiated a five-year grant to the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, one of the world’s leading institutions in the field of veterinary medicine and animal science, to advance the study of pet food nutrition and train the next generation of scientific leaders in the pet food industry, company officials reported.
As part of the grant, the university has named Dr. Anna Kate Shoveller, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Animal Biosciences, as the inaugural Champion Petfoods chair in canine and feline nutrition.
“Our purpose at Champion is to earn pet lovers’ trust every day so pets thrive for a lifetime,” said Blaine McPeak, Champion Petfoods CEO. “Dedicated original research into pet nutrition is a foundational element that makes that possible. Our collaboration with the University of Guelph and Dr. Shoveller will help ensure that one of the world’s leading research teams has the resources to advance this vital work for the betterment of pets everywhere.”
The University of Guelph ranks first in Canada and fifth globally for the quality of its veterinary science program, plus first for the quality of its agricultural program—both of which inform the pet food industry, officials said. Dr. Shoveller, who earned a Ph.D. in nutrition and metabolism, is a veteran academic leader who has also amassed eight years working for leading companies in the pet food industry to advance the understanding of protein and energy. She is a past chair of the American Society of Animal Sciences’ Companion Animal Committee and has received numerous awards for her contributions to the advancement of dog and cat nutrition.
Champion’s grant will support the ongoing study of several topics in conjunction with other international research experts to expand the foundational knowledge of pet nutrition for the health of pets. In addition, this grant provides opportunity for training students in preparation for roles in the pet food and nutrition industry.
Champion Petfoods senior vice president of research, innovation and product development Jeff Johnston believes Champion’s support of Dr. Shoveller’s work will combine the strengths of the university and the company to drive innovation in current and future pet food products. Champion has a team of pet nutrition experts, including Ph.D.-level nutritionists, food scientists, and in-house and external veterinarians, who continually pursue the advancement of nutrition and wellness for pets, officials said. By partnering with Dr. Shoveller and the University of Guelph, the combined team will be able to continue applying the latest developments in animal nutrition to develop food that will help dogs and cats thrive, officials added.
“This is a commitment to the future of our industry,” Johnston said. “At Champion we focus exclusively on making the best, most nutritional food to support a pet’s long-term health—the best there is today and the best that’s possible tomorrow. The science that will carry us into that future holds the promise to benefit not only Champion and the University of Guelph, but our entire industry and people everywhere who value the health of pets.”
Dr. Shoveller leads a team that also includes a select group of University of Guelph faculty from the Ontario Agricultural College, the Ontario Veterinary College and the College of Biological Science.
“Diet is part of a complex environment that helps determine a pet’s well-being, and the research we can pursue with Champion’s support will help us learn more about nutrition and the ways it interacts with other factors,” Dr. Shoveller said. “Champion is the first Canadian pet food company to make a commitment like this to the future of animals’ well-being. My colleagues and I are grateful for this partnership and eager to begin the new avenues of work it makes possible.”