In the second half of 2020, households in Taiwan (officially called the Republic of China, or ROC) are projected to have almost 3 million pets, a total that nearly eclipses the territory's overall number of children from the stated age group.
Live online data from Worldometer puts Taiwan's population as of mid-August 2020 at around 23.8 million, a very slight increase from the 23.7 million registered in 2018, during which 13% (3.081 million) were 14 years old or younger.
Birth rates down, pet ownership up
Trendsight Research and Consulting sees this development as another consequence of the continuing decline in Taiwan’s birth rate, which is currently at 1.2 against the desired level of 2.1. About 6 million Taiwanese aged 30 or older are also opting to stay single and would rather have “fur babies” than starting their own families.
While Taiwan's children-to-pets population situation is reason for concern, pet food and pet care companies aren't exactly complaining. Market research provider Euromonitor International reported that pet-related spending in Taiwan has been steadily increasing since 2015. Last year, pet owners bought US$713.9 million worth of pet food, a 40% increase from the US$494.5 million recorded in 2015, the agency said. Taiwanese also spent another US$402.9 million for other pet care products in 2019, up from US$283.2 million in 2015.
Taiwan encouraging pet ownership
Instead of introducing legislation to curb its pet population, Taiwan is encouraging the opening of more pet accommodations led by Taipei's Department of Economic Development. In the capital, the Taipei City Animal Protection Office is working with pet-friendly restaurants and hotels to promote the city as a pet-friendly destination. As of 2019, Taipei had 123 pet-oriented hospitality businesses, of which 78 are restaurants or cafes, some with “gourmet” pet food menus based on human-grade ingredients and cooked like famous restaurant dishes to attract two-legged diners and their four-legged “children.”
Treated as family members, pets in Taiwan are expected to create a local pet market valued at NT$50 billion (US$1.69 billion) per year or even more, according to the Pet Foods & Appliances Association ROC.