As the petfood industry becomes increasingly international,
companies and their managers must break through market
complexity by choosing reliable, unbiased sources of
information. Increased competition from both foreign
competitors and boutique brands requires actionable
intelligence to make quicker and timelier strategic
One method of analysis that progressive petfood
manufacturers and brand holders are incorporating is the use of
trade data. This information, while not new to some companies,
is creating value across marketing, sourcing, sales and legal
What is trade data?
Trade data provides information on the movement of physical
goods (raw materials and finished products) from one country to
another, including exports and imports. This information can
come in the form of:
Generally, all of this information is collected by
government sources but is typically disseminated by private
companies that work with government agencies.
US data: high-level stats
The most referenced form of trade data is the information
gathered by the US Census Bureau. This data consists of the
total imports and exports for the US using the harmonized
system. Census data is provided at a high level, with dollar
value typically being the unit of measure. This data is
comprehensive, covering all imports and exports.
The lowest level of information available within US Census
data is at a harmonized product level. For example, a user
could see the total value of all dog and cat food in general
(HTS code 230910) imported and exported in 2008 (
). You can also examine which countries export the most dog and
cat food in airtight containers (HTS code 2309100010) to the US
and which countries receive the most exports from the US (
). Often, this data is referenced when discussing the trade
For companies looking for detailed information, US Customs
and Border Protection collects information on every shipment
entering the US at a bill of lading level using the automated
manifest system. US Customs data, as it is commonly known, is
the most detailed source of information international trade
professionals can access.
While the detail on this information is great, there is no
significant standardization of how companies document product
and commodity names. In addition, US Custom provides only
waterborne imports electronically, which encompasses over 70%
of import activity. Truck, rail and air activity are not
provided at a manifest level of detail.
US Customs export data is not as readily available as import
data at a shipment level; however, it is expected to be more
widely available in the coming years. It is important to note
that HTS numbers and the value of goods are not listed on the
data provided by US Customs.
The data on a bill of lading will show who imported a
product and what company they received it from. In the sample
), the data shows the company that imported dog chews and who
manufactured them in Taiwan. The product descriptions for this
data will also be more detailed than Census data, possibly
providing size and number of each type of chews that were
Trade data clarifies where products come from, who is
producing and purchasing them and how much is currently in the
market. By intelligently analyzing this information, petfood
companies are more accurately forecasting supply, deriving
price trends and creating a clear understanding of how they
interact with both their competitors and suppliers.
First quarter petfood
The petfood industry has fared well compared to other
industries in the first quarter of 2009, showing an 18.8%
increase in the total value of imports and a slight 2.7%
decrease for exports. This outpaced the overall US trade
economy, which saw sharp declines for both imports and
exports of 22.3% and 29.9%, respectively.
The top sources for imports of petfood products have not
changed significantly in the last year, as the March data
shows no difference in the top five sources from 2008
(China, Canada, Thailand, Australia and Brazil). Exports
destinations for March saw big increases over the previous
March for both Japan and Belgium (
Pricing analysis of vessel imports and exports saw an
increase in the cost of imports from China year to date in
2009 compared with 2008. Costs under HTS code 2309100010
(cat and dog food in airtight containers) rose 1.7%, from
US$6.42 per kilogram to US$6.53 per kilogram. Costs for HTS
code 2309100090 increased 15.9%, from US$5.03 per kilogram
to US$5.83 per kilogram.
The prices per kilogram of US exports to the rest of the
world have increased 9.2% during the same period. These
numbers show the strength of the petfood industry. While
not recession proof, it does appear recession
More on how to
use trade data
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