China’s pet food market continues to soar, with growth of at least 19% for retail sales and as high as 100% in some areas in terms of production. Experts on the market highlighted this growth and other aspects of the dynamic country during Petfood Forum China 2016, held August 17 in Shanghai in conjunction with Pet Fair Asia 2016.

Wang Jinquan, PhD, associate professor with the Feed Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, opened the exclusive conference with an overview of a survey on the Chinese pet food industry, funded by the government’s Ministry of Agriculture. Significant data points included volume production of 700,000 tons in 2015, representing production value of 7.5 billion CNY (US$1.1 billion) and overall sales of 23 billion CNY (nearly US$3.5 billion). In the past year, pet food production has grown about 40% overall, with 100% growth in some areas, Wang said.

Further, large capital investments are spurring future volume growth. More than 10 new pet food factories have been built or are under construction, including Perfect Companion’s new factory in the Zhejiang province, with an annual output of 120,000 tons. Wang projected that more capital would pour into the market over the next five to 10 years as competition intensifies.

Pushan Tagore, vice president of global marketing-pet care for GfK, added to the market picture with data on retail pet food sales in China, specifically in pet shops, hypermarkets and veterinary clinics, plus online. For those channels, sales will reach approximately US$1.77 billion by the end of this year, GfK’s tracking data show, representing nearly 19% year-over-year growth. The average price per kilogram of pet food and treats continues to rise, too, hitting about 45 CNY ($6.77) in April 2016, a 12.5% increase since 2013. This first stage of premiumization is further fueling the market’s growth.

Wang also provided a progress report on new pet food regulations and standards being developed, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture as well. Of the several types of regulations under way, the one most currently complete covers registration for imported pet food products, a process that the new regulations aim to accelerate.

Other experts presenting at Petfood Forum China 2016 included Emma Bermingham, PhD, senior scientist for AgResearch Ltd., with research on whether dietary formats affect the nutrition and health of pets (with an emphasis on popular BARF, or biologically appropriate raw foods); Juan Gomez-Basauri, PhD, global director of the companion animal business of Alltech, discussing the role of mineral nutrition in pets, and whether mineral supplementation as currently sourced is sustainable; and Franck Peron, DVM, PhD, ethologist for Diana Pet Food, sharing best practices for measuring pet food palatability.

Rounding out the roster were Shiguang Yu, PhD, global technical manager-pet nutrition for DSM Nutritional Products, explaining why microalgae offer a sustainable source of polyunsaturated fatty acids for pet food; Will Henry, director of technology and R&D for Extru-Tech Inc., sharing results of case studies on the development of exotic pet diets and novelty treats using a single-screw extruder; John Adams, president of Adams Development, on creativity and culture’s role in developing business strategy, with differences among the US, UK and China; and Teresa Agulles, co-owner of PlusVet Animal Health, describing how plant extracts help meet pet food trends such as humanization and natural.

More than 100 pet food professionals, including conference sponsors, participated in Petfood Forum China 2016. The conference will return to Shanghai on August 23, 2017, at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.