South Korea eyes a US$11.5 billion pet industry by 2027

With government-led initiatives, the country hopes to further prepare for its growth.

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South Korea has set a goal to turn its entire pet market into a 15 trillion won industry (approximately US$11.47 billion) by 2027 with government-led initiatives to further prepare for its growth.

The expansion plan is triggered by encouraging industry statistics that saw the industry grow to 8 trillion won in 2022.

Lee Jae-shik, an official in charge of animal welfare policies at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, announced measures to significantly boost the country's pet industry in response to the increasing number of households that have pet dogs or cats. Over the last 10 years, household pet ownership grew from 3.64 million in 2012 to 6.02 million in 2022.

“To address the evolving market trends, such as pet humanization, technological innovation and demographic shifts, it is necessary to nurture pet industries that can generate new production and create increased demand,” the ministry said in a statement.

The expansion plans include aligning the industry's pet food industry standards for nutrition, product packaging and advertising with those from the U.S. and European Union (EU).

The country will also build a testing center for new pet products to be called “One-Welfare Valley,” Yonhap News Agency reported. It will provide companies with the right R&D facilities for pet product testing following strict safety conditions. The expansion plan also includes financial aids for local pet companies in the form of low-interest loans for product development.

To make pet ownership less expensive, the government is removing value-added taxes on essential or frequently required veterinary services for pets and will make it mandatory for veterinary clinics to display prices for a broader range of treatments. A 2022 survey on pet expenditures showed that South Koreans have a budget of 150,000 won (US$123) per month on average for their pets.

By 2027, South Korea aims to significantly increase its total pet food exports from US$149 million in 2022 to US$500 million, the ministry said.

In terms of volume, the country's pet food exports were at 61.2 million kilograms in 2022, data from market research firm Statista showed. South Korea-made pet food were mostly destined for Japan, Thailand and Australia.

Statista also reported that pet food imported to South Korea last year came mostly from the U.S. (about 19 thousand tons) and China (15.6 thousand tons).

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