MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Industry members, supporting organizations and US agencies are hard at work making the case that US pet food products are the cream of the crop on the global stage. In its efforts to support international market expansion for this sector, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) listed four countries — Taiwan, Spain, Portugal and the Philippines — as “best prospects” for US pet food processors with eyes overseas, and the Philippines is considered an active market within the USDA-funded Market Access Program (MAP), according to Pet Food Institute (PFI).

The Philippines currently represents the seventh-largest market for US agricultural exports. It is also the No. 1 Southeast Asian export market for US consumer-oriented products, exports of which were up 19% year-over-year in 2022 to $1.6 million. According to the USDA FAS, the Philippines was the ninth-largest market for US dog and cat food exports in 2021.

According to the report, US dog and cat food exports to the Philippines hit a record high in 2021 at $51 million. Trade data from the US Census Bureau shows US dog and cat food exports to the Philippines were up 3% in the first 11 months of 2022, compared to the previous 11-month period.

Sales of dry dog food, which makes up a majority of pet food sales in the Philippines, are forecasted to grow 9% in 2023, supported largely by dry dog food. Cat food sales are expected to climb 13%, supported predominantly by wet pet food.

According to data shared by Euromonitor, total pet food sales in the Philippines reached $397 in 2022. Dog food sales accounted for $331 million of the total market in 2022; cat food sales represented $61 million; and “other” pet food — such as food for birds, fishes, reptiles and small mammals — remained flat at $4 million, as it has since 2018.

Overall, the Filipino pet food market is expected to grow 9% in 2023 to $434 million. Pet food sales saw 9% growth from 2021 to 2022 as well, following a 33% jump from $272 million in 2020 to $364 million in 2021, according to Euromonitor. Dry and wet pet food, as well as meal mixers and treats, are all opportunities for market growth in the Philippines, according to the USDA FAS.


Pet ownership in the Philippines

According to a 2021 survey by Rakuten, 67% of the country’s population are dog owners — the highest dog ownership population throughout Asia — and 43% are cat owners, representing the second-highest population across Asia. The Philippines Canine Club, Inc. reported registered puppies and litters grew by more than 40% from 2020 to 2021, setting the country up for an even more robust pet population in years to come. For context, the number of registered puppies and litters averaged 7% growth in previous years.

Growth of the country’s pet population has been attributed to a pandemic-era rise in pet ownership interest, an increasing number of condominiums — smaller spaces mean Filipinos are opting to adopt smaller dogs and cats — and a continued expansion of household expenditures in the country.

Affordability and convenience are important to Filipino pet owners, with economy dry dog food and mid-priced wet cat food products being predominantly popular. According to the USDA FAS, pet food premiumization is making its way into the country, with some retailers and distributors adding frozen and freeze-dried product assortments.

Additionally, some Filipino pet owners are opting for products formulated without artificial flavors or preservatives, as well as hypoallergenic formulations, products including plant-based and organic ingredients, those formulated with probiotics and Omega fatty acids, or those touting functional health benefits like heart, urinary tract and immune health.


Filipino retail trends

In a tangent report by the USDA FAS, which examined the retail market for food products in the Philippines, dog and cat food was listed among the “best product prospects” for US consumer-oriented product exports to the Philippines.

Roughly one-third of pet food sold in the country is done through pet shops, with the majority of purchases being made at supermarkets, hypermarkets, warehouse clubs and mom-and-pop stores. Some retailers, including SM Retail, S&R and Landers — which represent some of the Philippines’ largest warehouse clubs and hypermarkets — have started contracting private label pet food brands to offer products at lower price points.

According to the USDA FAS report, there are five main pet stores operating brick-and-mortar stores in the Philippines: Cartimar Pet Center, Pet Lovers Center, Pooch Park, Dog City and Koi Hob. The five stores selling both in-store and online include Bow and Wow, Pet Express, Dogs and the City, Petto Bento and Pet Shop PH. Only one company was listed as an online-only pet store in the Philippines: Pet Warehouse Philippines.

Thanks to the rise of e-commerce, most pet food brands are able to sell their products online, according to the USDA FAS. Additionally, two e-commerce retail platforms — Shopee and Lazada — are selling and distributing pet food online in the country. However, online sales volume for pet food in the Philippines remains negligible.

Currently, the top dog food brands in the Philippines include Pedigree, SmartHeart, Vitality, Monge, Nutri Chunks, Royal Canin and Cesar. The top cat food brands include Whiskas, Monge, Sheba, Temptations, Royal Canin and Ciao.


Opportunities, competition and barriers for US exporters

The Pet Food Institute (PFI) reports more than half of Filipino dogs and cats feed on table scraps, which the USDA FAS interpreted as “showing a large potential for conversion to dry pet food.”

According to PFI’s Market Tracker tool, overall cat food sales in the Philippines are expected to grow 9.3% from 2022 to 2027, with a 10.4% CAGR for dry cat food, a 9.1% CAGR for wet cat food, and a 7.2% CAGR for cat treats and mixers. Dog food sales are expected to grow 5.4% over the same period, supported by a 5.8% CAGR for dry dog food, a 4.6 CAGR for wet dog food, and a 3.4% CAGR for dog treats and mixers.

The Market Tracker tool also detailed the top five companies competing in the Filipino market as of 2021: Mars Philippines (36.5% share), Pet Plus Global Marketing Corp. (11% share), Consumer Care Products (10.5% share), Pet Discount (10% share), and San Miguel Foods (5% share). This was corroborated by Euromonitor data, which added Royal Canin Philippines as the sixth largest dog food competitor in the country and the third-largest player in the cat food space.

Most pet food is imported to the Philippines by Thailand, the United States and the European Union. Between 2017 and 2021, Thailand has maintained a steep growth trajectory for pet food exports to the Philippines, up from $18.8 million in 2017 to $71 million in 2021, according to Trade Data Monitor. The United States currently has an approximate 26% share of global dog and cat food exports to the Philippines, with Thailand holding a 36% share, the European Union holding 15%, Australia holding 12%, and China with 11%.

US importers are faced with higher tariffs and less competitive shipping rates compared to other Southeast Asian nations, China, Australia and New Zealand, according to the USDA FAS. They are also experiencing supply shortages due to continued logistical disruptions coupled with demand growth.

Processors can find more resources for importing pet food and animal feed products to the Philippines on the Republic of the Philippines Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry website.

Read more about US pet food export opportunities in Asian and European markets.

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