US tops pet food imports by Canada with potential to grow

The U.S. is by far the largest exporter of pet food to Canada, and Canada is the largest export market for U.S. dog, cat and other pet foods.

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et owners in Canada love their pets, and there is nuance to how they feed their animals depending on where they live. | (Lori Beneteau | Shutterstock.com)
et owners in Canada love their pets, and there is nuance to how they feed their animals depending on where they live. | (Lori Beneteau | Shutterstock.com)

Analysts in the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA) believe there are opportunities for more exports of pet food from the United States to Canada. The U.S. is by far the largest exporter of pet food to Canada, and Canada is the largest export market for U.S. dog, cat and other pet foods. Nevertheless, USDA Foreign Agricultural Services analysts detailed further potential in the report “Opportunities for Expanding U.S. Pet Food Exports to Canada.”

Currently, 90% of Canada’s pet food imports come from the U.S., followed by Thailand at 4% and China and the European Union at 2% each.

“In 2021, Canada was the destination for nearly half of all U.S. pet food exports,” USDA analyst Kortni Blalock wrote in the report. “Canada’s geographical proximity, large disposable income, high pet ownership rate, health consciousness, and preference for e-commerce make it an excellent market opportunity for U.S. pet food exporters.”

Citing Euromonitor International data, Blalock wrote that Canada’s pet food retail value is forecast to grow beyond US6.7 billion by 2027. In 2021, Canadian pet food imports from the United States reached US$958 million. Those imports grew by 19.6% in the first eight months of 2022, compared to the same period last year.

Dog and cat food imports by Canada

In 2021, premium dog kibble sales were 14 times higher than premium wet dog food sales, and may increase to US$1.9 billion by 2027. Considering cat food, retail sales are forecast to exceed US$1.7 billion USD by 2027, led by premium dry cat food. Online sales of cat food grew from 2019 to 2021, increasing 92.3%, while grocery store sales fell 15.9%. In 2021, cat food sales in grocery stores reached US$582 million, while e-commerce sales were valued at US$262 million.

In April 2021, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) stopped requiring import permits for processed, shelf-stable pet foods or treats. Import conditions do still include a zoosanitary certificate and an importer’s statement of compliance.

“Opportunities for U.S. pet food in Canada are promising and continue to expand,” Blalock wrote. “Potential exporters need to consider food trends, demographics, and the importance of e-commerce when marketing to the Canadian consumer. Canadian pet owners are placing increasing importance on their animals and want the highest quality ingredients afforded by their high disposable incomes. These factors, including Canada’s proximity and similar health standards, make Canada an excellent market for U.S. pet food exports.”

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