The link between dog food prices and national economies

Feeding a dog commercial pet food is still a luxury in some countries, and affordability seems to follow a country’s income levels and overall economic health.

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I’ll admit it: When an email with the subject line “Study: The most (and least) expensive countries for dog food” popped up in my inbox and I saw that the study was conducted by CashNetUSA, an online lender in the U.S., my natural skepticism kicked in. What would a company like that know about the cost of dog food, I thought, and why would anyone trust its data?

Well, it turns out that CashNetUSA has a rather helpful blog, “SavingSpot: Dollars and Sense,” which offers “better ways to budget, manage your money and save for the future even when life gets in the way,” the “About us” page reads. Those ways include a variety of “strategies, tips and tools.”

(So no, the Spot in the blog title does not refer to the common dog name; other blog posts cover subjects ranging from soft skills needed for certain jobs to the most common loan scams to tips for starting a budget.)

Mea culpa. I jumped to a conclusion without further investigating. As I soon read in the blog post about dog food prices, the survey impressively included 97 countries, and its data and methodology seem pretty sound.

To quote: “For each country in our analysis, we found the price of the cheapest dry dog food from local supermarkets or — where local supermarkets didn’t offer that information — the price offered by an international supermarket that would deliver to that country. Using guidelines from PetMD, we then calculated the equivalent annual cost of feeding a medium-sized (40 lbs.) dog 540 grams of dry food each day. To find out how affordable feeding a dog is in each country, we compared a country’s yearly dog food cost to its national net income per capita.”

The data may provide some insights for pet food companies seeking to expand exports or develop in new markets.

Affordability: Developed vs. developing pet food markets

Not surprisingly, dog food is most affordable in mainly developed countries with higher per capita incomes and is least affordable in developing countries, including ones undergoing some level of strife. The 10 countries where dog food is most affordable are all in Western Europe with two exceptions: Slovenia in Eastern Europe and the U.S. in North America. Western Europe and North America are the two largest pet food regions in the global market.

On the other hand, the 10 countries where dog food is least affordable are all in the Middle East or Africa, also the smallest regions for pet ownership and levels of commercial pet food sold. For contrast, in the most affordable country, Ireland, dog food costs account for just 0.72% of the national net income per capita, while in Afghanistan, the least affordable country, it accounts for 133.47%.

Countries with highest dog food prices in many regions

Looking at most expensive vs. least expensive dog food further illustrates the effect of the countries’ overall economies and income levels, not to mention cultures; the list of most expensive dog food prices in terms of annual costs yields a much greater variety of regions, with countries from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. They also range widely in terms of their status as pet food markets.

Japan, definitely a developed economy and dog food market, has the highest dog food costs by far, US$2,056.88 a year. The second highest is Andorra, not known as a pet food powerhouse, at US$1,854.71 a year. Other countries on the most expensive list include Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, plus a couple more from Western and Eastern Europe each.

Comprised of countries from Africa and Europe, the least expensive list doesn’t range quite as widely in terms of regions,. Botswana has the least expensive dog food worldwide, at US$163.59 a year, followed by Lesotho at US$201.29. Other countries on that list are Hungary, Slovenia, South Africa, France, Czechia, Greece, Montenegro and Ireland — interestingly, it includes a few more developed countries/pet food markets.


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