EDMONTON, ALBERTA — Champion Petfoods announced Sept. 28 it will provide a five-year grant to the University of Guelph in Ontario to support research and collaboration in the pet nutrition space. As part of this 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.

The University of Guelph is a leading academic partner in the areas of veterinary medicine and animal science, and a strong supporter of companion animal nutrition research. Such studies conducted at the university explore digestibility, metabolism, body composition, energy and macronutrient metabolism, behavior and welfare and food quality.

Additionally, the university’s veterinary science program ranks No. 1 in Canada and No. 5 on a global scale in terms of quality, and its agricultural program is also high-ranking. Both these areas help to inform pet food research.

"Our purpose at Champion is to earn pet lovers' trust every day so pets thrive for a lifetime," said Blaine McPeak, chief executive officer at Champion. "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."

Shoveller earned her doctorate in nutrition and metabolism and has spent eight years working for leading pet food companies throughout her career. She previously served as chair of the American Society of Animal Sciences’ Companion Animal Committee and has been awarded several times for her contributions to the dog and cat nutrition space, including receiving the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) inaugural Friend of Pet Food Award in 2020.

"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," 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."

Aside from providing financial support on numerous research topics, the grant will allow the university to offer training to students with aspirations in the pet food and nutrition industry, Champion stated.

"This is a commitment to the future of our industry," said Jeff Johnston, senior vice president of research, innovation and product development at Champion. "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."

Johnston also noted Champion’s partnership with Shoveller and her team — comprised of a select group of faculty from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College, the Ontario Veterinary College and the College of Biological Science — will serve as a powerful combination of strengths and capabilities to help drive science-based pet food innovation.

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