High growth potential for US pet food exports to European and Asian markets

WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) has identified Taiwan, Spain, Portugal and the Philippines as the “best prospects” for U.S. pet food producers looking abroad. Rising numbers of pets and franchises are developing mature business opportunities in these markets.

Citing Euromonitor, FAS sales in Taiwan’s pet food market are expected to exceed $1 billion this year, which is a 63.8% increase over 2017 sales of $613 million. As premium is taking this market by storm, commercial pet foods are slowly replacing table scraps as food for dogs and cats, and demand for high-quality, complete and balanced nutrition is growing—especially among younger urban pet owners.

In response, Taiwan’s imports of dog and cat food have grown steadily over the past decade, from $100.3 million in 2011 to $226.4 million in 2021. The trends fueling this growing market are expected to remain strong, FAS shares.

The story is similar in Spain. The company imported $511 million worth of dog and cat food products in 2021, representing a 27% year-over-year increase while maintaining a strong five-year growth trend. Spanish pet owners are paying more attention to the health and nutritional needs of their pets, and as the number of domestic pets grows, more and more consumers are choosing premium pet food options as a result. According to the FAS, Canada and the United States are among the largest importers of pet food into the country, along with other European Union countries.

According to the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF), around 27% of households in Spain own at least one dog, and 16% own at least one cat, up 1% and 2% from 2019, respectively. By comparison, nearly 39% of households in Portugal own at least one dog, and 32% own at least one cat, both down 1% from 2019, respectively.

The FAS stated that “Pet food from the US has a good reputation in Portugal”. This sentiment is reflected in the explosive growth in US pet food imports into the country over the past five years. According to the FAS, Portugal imported $243 million worth of pet food products in 2021. In 2022, the country imported nearly $5.3 million worth of US pet food products, up from $2 million in 2017.

Market share of Philippine agricultural imports

Although American pet food exporters must compete with European Union exporters in Spain, France and Germany, the United States remains the largest non-EU supplier of pet food to Portugal, according to the FAS. Sales of organic, raw and natural pet food products are growing in this market, as pet ownership increases and more young couples choose to own pets before having children, according to Euromonitor.

Additionally, pet food is listed by the FAS as having “high growth potential” in the Philippines, where US exports rose to $51 million in 2021, up 38% year-over-year. Once again, increased pet ownership and access to Asian markets will bode well for pet food exporters in the United States.

With these promising prospects on the horizon, Gina Temparello, director of international policy and trade for the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), details the missed business opportunities and legislative pitfalls that currently reduce the ability of American pet food exporters to compete on the global stage.

Read more about Trade opportunities and challenges.

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