Pet food professionals learned the latest data on the Chinese market duringPetfood Forum China 2018. l Debbie Phillips-Donaldson

Continuing its rapid growth, the Chinese pet food market is projected to reachU.S.$2.2 billion by the end of 2018, representing 21 percent year over yeargrowth. George He, account director with GfK Retail and Technology China,presented this and other market data during Petfood Forum China 2018 on August21 in Shanghai.

More than 130 pet food professionals from China and other regions of the worldlearned about the domestic market during the seventh edition of theconference, held in conjunction with Pet Fair Asia 2018. He’s data showed thatonline pet food sales in China are particularly strong, increasing 30.8percent year over year, though that growth has slowed from 40.7 percent in2017. Yet online sales now account for more than half of the Chinese pet foodmarket at 51.8 percent, compared to 48.2 percent for brick and mortar outlets.

Pet store sales rule, cat products on the rise

In terms of the types of offline retail outlets selling pet food in China, petstores own a 69.3 percent share, compared to 18.6 percent for hypermarkets and12.1 percent for veterinary hospitals. Cat food sales are rising in all ofthose channels, and while cat food is currently only 40 percent of the market,the segment is increasing by 40 percent a year. Dog food sales, on the otherhand, have seen a decline in hypermarkets, with increases in the otherchannels yet not at the same rate as cat food. He and other experts in Chinasaid there are restrictions to dog ownership in some cities, including thesize of dogs allowed.

Dry pet food predominates for both cats and dogs in China, and natural andgrain-free products now comprise 29 percent and 10 percent, respectively, ofthe pet food market. While the market consists primarily of foreign brands, at66 percent, that share is down from 74 percent in 2017. Domestic brands areseeing greater growth, especially in higher-priced, premium products.

New pet food regulations in China

Wang Jinquan, Ph.D., associate professor with the Feed Research Institute ofthe Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and another speaker at PetfoodForum China, highlighted the domestic market in his presentation, saying 15companies now have revenues exceeding 100 million RMB (U.S.$14.5 million) in2017.

As lead drafter of new pet food regulations in China, Wang also presenteddetails on the regulations, which include definitions of the types of pet foodcovered (pet compound feed, equivalent to complete pet foods, plus petadditive premix food and pet snacks), the licensing requirements for each,labeling and hygiene/safety regulations. The new regulations took effect June1, 2018, with a grace period until September 1, 2019, to comply with someaspects.

Other speakers at Petfood Forum addressed the effect of kibble diameter onpalatability, by Kris Figge of AFB International; choosing the right pet foodsafety management system, by David Rosenblatt, D.V.M, of Sher Consulting andTraining; keeping up with high growth in China and southeast Asia, by WarrenRickard of Anivive; “free-from” negative marketing claims, by Paola Cane,Ph.D., of Mia Solution; best practices for safe pet food production, by GraceWang of Diana Pet Food; and the gut-brain axis, by Francesca Susca, Ph.D., ofLallemand Animal Nutrition.

Petfood Forum China will take place again in August 2019 in Shanghai.

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