BANGKOK — With United States pet food manufacturers known globally for superior products, it’s no wonder that exports of these products have grown significantly during the past few years, according to Gina Tumbarello, senior director of international policy and trade for the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). In Pet Food Processing’s September 2022 edition, Tumbarello detailed the trade opportunities US pet food processors are missing out on within various global regions, including Thailand.

“While Vietnam and Thailand are not currently significant markets for pet food exports, there is growing potential for US pet food manufacturers to compete in these markets,” Tumbarello wrote. “…In Thailand [households owning cats and dogs] grew 22% and 17% respectively, between 2017 and 2021.”

According to the US Census Bureau, US exports of dog and cat food to Thailand grew a mere 4.2% from 2021 to 2022, amassing $8.98 million. Though there is trade potential for US pet food processors in the country, most pet food exports are hindered by Thai tariff rates, which currently sit at 9%.

As pet ownership in the Indo-Pacific country increases, as well as trends in premiumization and humanization, Thai exports are gaining significant traction as US exports fall behind in the country.

According to the Thai Pet Food Trade Association (TPFA), Thailand became the world’s third largest pet food exporter in 2021, exporting a value of more than 65 billion baht ($1.7 billion USD), a 27% increase from 2020. The country’s top exporters include the United States, Japan, Italy, Malaysia and Australia. According to the association, Thai pet food exports have already witnessed significant growth for 2022, increasing 43% within the first seven months.

With a large agricultural industry, 95% of the raw materials used in Thai pet foods are sourced locally, furthering the country’s production and success in global trade, according to TPFA.

"Our strengths also derive from the long-standing experiences and reputation in canned tuna production which can be broaden into wet pet food manufacturing," said Chanintr Chalisarapong, Ph.D., president of TPFA.

The country’s top pet food manufacturers include Perfect Companion Group, owner of SmartHeart and Me-O brands; Asian Sea, owner of the Monchou brand; Charoen Pokphand Foods, owner of JerHigh and Jinny brands; and Thai Union, owner of the brand ChangeTer. The growth of pet ownership and consumer demand for more pet nutrition products within the country has also attracted several international companies, including Mars Petcare, Nestle Purina, Pedigree and Tiki Pets.

In Thailand, pet food consumers are interested in pet food products that boast safety, variety and dietary value, similar to those of human foods. Consumer demand has increased for prescription formulas and functional supplements that target a variety of pet health conditions, like heart, lung and kidney diseases, according to TPFA.

"The trust in our manufacturers' quality and safety standards from customers, combined with product diversification, innovation and continuous development contribute to Thailand's competitive edge in the global pet food market," Chalisarapong said.

With the global pet food market projected to reach a CAGR of 4.6% from 2022 to 2027, according to Mordor Intelligence, Thailand will likely ramp up its competitiveness in the global market and further its position as a leader in pet food exportation.

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