Will Imported Pet Foods Consumption Surge in China in 2021?
BY Chris WangFeb 11, 2021
-In 2020, 715 import pet foods gained access into China. The import value of the volume of pet foods for dogs and cats increased by over 160%. -Numbers of dogs and cats in China's cities and towns in 2020 broke the 100 million mark for the first time. -2021 will witness the explosive growth of the pet food market in China, and more imported pet food will enter the market.

Importation wave of pet food in China

Due to consumption upgrade, high-end imported pet food is favored by domestic consumers, which leads to the rising popularity of imported pet products and a further increase in the import amount. 

In 2019, imports of dog and cat food amounted to US$308 million, which was only $0.05 billion in 2009. In the first ten months of 2020, the import value of dog and cat food far exceeded the total value of 2019, reaching US$508 million. Meanwhile, imports of dog and cat food totaled 87,400 tons, with a year-on-year increase of 160%. Staple food was the primary category. In addition, the average import price of dog and cat food has risen from US$1.79 per kg in 2009 to US$5.66 per kg in 2019.1

ChemLinked also noticed that the number of imported pet food that got entry approval surged in 2020. As of December 31, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has issued eight notices, approving a total of 715 import pet products, up from 290 in 2019. Among them, 289 were cat food, and 389 were dog food.

Pet raising in China in 2020

As the 2020 White Paper on China's Pet Industry2 revealed, the number of dogs and cats in China's cities and towns in 2020 increased by 1.7% compared with 2019, breaking the 100 million mark for the first time. The consumption market reached 206.5 billion yuan, up 2% from 2019.

Compared to 2019, The pet owner demographics also changed. Those born in the 1980s accounted for 36.2% of the population, nearly 7% higher than in 2019. However, the post-1990 generation was still the majority of pet owners, accounting for 38.1%. In terms of gender, 89.5% of pet owners in China were female.

Additionally, the income level of pet owners improved. In 2020, pet owners with an average monthly income of more than 10,000 yuan accounted for 30.1% of all, up 5.9% compared to 2019. The top 10 cities by pet owner number in 2020 were Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Dalian. The per capita disposable income of these ten cities is higher than the national average, and these cities are also relatively developed in the local economy.

In terms of pets, compared with 2019, the proportion of middle-aged and elderly pet dogs and cats has increased significantly. Among them: pet dogs over the age of 8 accounted for 23.3%, about 8.4 million, which accounted for the highest proportion among pet dogs; The number of pet cats over the age of 10 increased to about 2.35 million, already accounting for 8.7% of the total cats.

The proportion of dogs with health problems increased by 3% to 54.1%, and the proportion of cats with health problems increased by more than 10% to 48.7%. Major health problems involve obesity, skin, gastrointestinal, urinary and hip.

Predication in 2021

In the next ten years, there will be fewer babies and more pets in China. China will surpass the United States as the world's largest pet market, with total market size of about US$160 billion.

At ChemLinked, we think 2021 will witness the explosive growth of the pet food market in China, with more imported new entrants. We foresee a heated-up competition in the Chinese pet food market. US pet food exports to China have reached or are close to an all-time high in 2020. As the first-phase economic and trade agreement between China and the US takes effect, more American pet brands will hit the Chinese market in 2021. Pet foods from South Korea and Japan also expect to carve out a niche in the booming Chinese market.

Note: There is a directory specifying the approved countries and corresponding feed product(pet food) category, and only products conforming to the list are allowed to be exported to China, whether through normal trade or cross-border e-commerce. Currently, 18 countries/regions are allowed to export pet food products to China. For more compliance requirements, you may visit: 

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