Increasing Demand for Freeze-dried Pet Food
In recent years, there has been a growing trend among young people in urban areas to raise pets to alleviate work pressure and enhance daily life enjoyment. According to the 2021 China Pet Industry White Paper, the number of cats and dogs in urban areas exceeded 110 million in 2021, with 68.44 million pet owners, in which 46.3% belong to the post-90 generation. These young people consider pets as family members and provide them with meticulous care and attention. When it comes to selecting pet food, they tend to choose high-quality products that ensure their pets with both adequate nutrition and a joyful eating experience (More information about Chinese pet food market on ChemLinked).
This condition contributes to the growth of freeze-dried pet food products, which cater precisely to their demands. During the 2022 Double Eleven Shopping Festival, the sales of freeze-dried pet staple food increased by over 6 times year-on-year (YoY) on JD. In Q1 2023, the sales reached CNY 1.14 billion on Taobao and Tmall platforms, with a YoY increase of 28.5.
Why freeze-dried pet food? Because it’s healthier and more natural than traditional pet food due to processing technology. The freeze-drying process helps retain the nutritional content of the ingredients and preserve the natural flavors, vitamins, and proteins in the ingredients. Additionally, freeze-dried pet food often contains higher proportion of whole foods and limited additives compared to traditional pet food, which can contribute to the healthiness and naturalness of the product. Moreover, due to the use of vacuum freeze drying (VDF) technology, it is with soft texture and digestible.
Analysis: China’s Market Status Quo
1. Purchase Condition
Currently, there are mainly two categories of freeze-dried pet food in China, freeze-dried pet staple food and snack food. In 2022, a higher purchasing proportion of dog owners can be seen in both categories, comparing to that of cat owners.
Additionally, the purchasing patterns of freeze-dried pet food showed variations across different city tiers in China. Generally, both dog and cat owners in first and second-tier cities had higher purchase rates of freeze-dried staple and snack foods compared to owners in lower-tier cities. The disparity suggests that developing freeze-dried pet food business tend to be relatively easier in first and second-tier cities. Expanding the market in lower-tier cities might require more consumer education.
2. Sales Channels
Regarding the sales channel, pet owners prefer purchasing freeze-dried products from online channels. According to the 2022 Pet Freeze-dried Consumption Report, 41% pet owners purchase freeze-dried products from both online and offline channels, 38% choose online channels only, and 21% choose offline channels only. In online channels, pet owners prefer Taobao, Tmall and JD platforms, while in offline channels, they tend to purchase in pet shops and pet hospitals.
3. Influential Factors in Consumer’s Decision-making
When making buying decisions, the safety and reputation of the products are the top concerns. They prefer freeze-dried pet food with safe formulas and without additives. Following safety and reputation, the pet owners' second concern is price. They value fair pricing and consider it an essential factor when selecting freeze-dried pet food. As for other factors, in comparison, the pet owners attach less attention to the product packaging and recommendations by celebrities have little impact on their choices. In this condition, if pet companies hope to attract more pet owners, improving product quality should be their top priority.
4. Salable Products
Various freeze-dried staple and snack foods have also been rolled out on the market. For instance, in the category of staple food, Alfie & Buddy introduced a freeze-dried staple food for cats featuring premium protein ingredients like fresh chicken and salmon, and 14 billion probiotics per unit helpful to digestion. Legendsandy also unveiled a freeze-dried staple food for cats containing pigeon and chicken meat. It is designed in the form of perforated particles resembling donuts, allowing for increased contact surface with gastric juices, which aims to alleviate the burden on the pets’ digestive system.
In the realm of snack food, Myfoodie’s rolled out freeze-dried dog snacks like goat milk stick and sausages, including chicken sausages and beef sausages. Ziwi launched a freeze-dried cat snack containing grass-feeding beef, seafood, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. It is worth noting that omega-3 fatty acids is helpful to cats’ skin protection and brain development function.
Outlook: Competitive Market in the Future
With the increasing demand for freeze-dried pet food, the leading market players increase their companies’ capacity at an accelerated speed.
In 2022, China Pet Foods, one of China’s major pet food manufacturers, raised CNY 769 million through issuing convertible bonds to incubate projects like improving its annual capacity of freeze-dried pet food to 2,000 tons.
Mingyue Anxin’s capacity enhancement project, which intended to enhance the company’s freeze-dried pet food capacity to 2,100 tons annually, was also put into operation in the same year.
Ranova, currently with an annual production of 3,000 tons, is continuously increasing the company’s capacity by enlarging its factory area.
With enterprises’ sustained engagement and investment, ChemLinked assumes that China’s freeze-dried pet food market will become increasingly competitive in the future. In order to thrive in this evolving landscape, brands are suggested to improve their research and development capabilities and innovate in product flavour, texture, nutrition, etc. so as to offer more appealing products for consumers.
Notes: ChemLinked provides pet food registration service and free webinar resource introducing How to Sell Pet Food to China. If you are interested in them, please do not hesitate to contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or tel +86 (0) 571 8609 4444.