China continues to climb global pet food market lists

Photo by Andrea Gantz

Recent trends indicate that the center of pet food industry growth is shifting away from North America and Europe, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the new report Pet Food: U.S. Market and International Perspectives. The report profiles more than a dozen countries worldwide.

“The pet food market, especially the market for dog and cat food, has truly gone global,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “The national markets showing highest longer-term promise for future growth period include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia and South Korea.”

The case for China

China continues to climb the global pet food market lists, making it one of the fastest growing pet care markets alongside Mexico, Russia and Brazil. Packaged Facts reports that the Chinese pet market is already in a dynamic growth stage, with impressive annual growth rates in recent years.

“No country has more pet market growth potential than China, which is partly a function of yet-to-be-realized pet population growth and broader usage of commercial pet food,” Sprinkle said.

For more than a decade, pet ownership has been spreading from rural areas into the cities. There are indications of strongly surging dog and cat populations in the country, especially among cat ownership, which makes sense considering cats’ are more readily suitable to modern, high-density urban lifestyles.

“Dogs and cats are charting double-digit growth in China. However, cat ownership in particular is being driven by younger, urban Chinese pet owners with busy lifestyles, smaller living spaces, and a growing need for the emotional supports offer, among other factors,” says Sprinkle.

Packaged Facts believes there’s opportunity to gradually upscale Chinese pet owners to premium pet products, including pet food.

Packaged Facts points to several encouraging signs hinting at the potential of premiumization in the Chinese pet market. For example, products featuring natural ingredients continue to outperform regular pet food, and grain-free products are beginning to catch on (though it’s worth nothing that this trend may be cut short, depending on the results of U.S. investigation into a possible association between grain-free pet food and canine dilated cardiomyopathy). Other areas of growth, as in the U.S., include freeze-dried and chilled pet food and treat options, and specialized foods targeting life stages and specific health conditions, such as for senior or overweight pets.

Stay up to date with trends

Petfood Forum China is a conference for global pet food professionals to discover key insights on growth drivers and trends in the Chinese pet food market. Attendees include professionals working in nutrition, ingredient and processing technologies, packaging, food science, R&D, product development, food safety, QA/QC, purchasing, import/export and regulatory compliance.