Custom dog and cat food

The Viva Technology fair will be held in Paris from 16 to 19 June 2021, three-day conferences and exhibitions dedicated to innovation and high technology. Royal Canin, a company specializing in pet food, represents Individualis. Using algorithms and data, this service wants to offer tailor-made food for dogs and cats.

Custom qibla obtained by algorithm

Royal Canin is a company created 53 years ago by Jean Cathary, a French veterinarian who saw nutrition as an important factor in good animal health, and is an ideal specialized diet for each specimen. But almost 60 years ago, scientific advances made it impossible to go beyond a certain personalization of products. Today, algorithms and the mixing of astronomical amounts of data open up new possibilities for manufacturers of all lines. “It is a step further thanks to the available tools.“, agrees Pierre-Charles Parsy, vice president of digital transformation at Royal Canin. The company launched a project called Individualis more than a decade ago. After seven years of research and development and three years of clinical studies, it achieved its goal: a personalized kib.

From a veterinary point of view (the tool is not directly available to individuals), the algorithm – called Nutribrain – has been translated in a simple way, in the form of questions that allow the animal to be profiled. But upstream, during development, Royal Canin claims to have identified all the data concerning dogs and cats that could be useful for the realization of personalized food. Currently, Individualis operates only between 25% and 30%. Collecting these data points is equivalent to multiplying the precision of the tool and therefore refining the recipe. It was also necessary to develop a tool by gathering information from very real animals present in the company’s animal centers and whose behavior is being studied. Other information was collected from voluntary owners. How to feed database tools. “But the algorithm becomes effective in only one way: by facing real situations over and over again“, notes Pierre-Charles Parsy. For three years, therefore, Individualis underwent clinical studies to improve his skills with about fifteen veterinarians.

Recipe established by algorithm

Introduced in the fifth edition of Vivatech and launched largely in France in late 2019, then in 2020 in Germany and Japan, this tool is now equipped by several hundred veterinary clinics. In particular, the practitioner integrated into the program accesses a platform on which to fill in key data about the animal (breed, age, weight, sterilization, risk factors, already developed pathologies …). “He enters all this data into the digital infrastructure provided to him and after, for 90 to 180 seconds, the algorithm will calculate a recipe adapted to the animal.“, explains Pierre-Charles Parsy. Thus proposed food it consists of a set of primary elements – or primary croquettes – that can be interconnected in different proportions according to the needs of the animal to create a complete food. Therefore, it is the Nutribrain algorithm that determines the proportion of primary material to be compiled.

Digital structure of Royal Canina Individualis. Credit: Royal Canin

The owner then decides whether to accept a custom feed that can work on a subscription basis. The sale is carried out only by a veterinarian (who determines the price himself), and the “solution” is delivered to the home or doctor. “The recipe may change over time, for example if the animal is no longer overweight or if the owner moves from an urban to a rural setting“, explains Mr. Parsy. Therefore, the tool is intended for preventive and curative treatment.

Credit: Royal Canin

Please note that Individualis is currently only suitable for adult cats and dogs (15 to 18 months) and that the price list set by the veterinarian may vary depending on the type or size of the dog. So Mr. Parsy says, “The recommendation should not be given only to Royal Canin Individualis. You have to be rational and that is why we believe that not everything should lead to that. There must be a balance between an individualized solution and a solution that may be appropriate and that will be cheaper“The owner remains the final decision maker anyway … before such an adjustment may become the norm.

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