South Korea eyes stricter online pet food sales monitoring

Learn about South Korea’s plans for stricter pet food quality monitoring, particularly of online products, in the wake of growing pet ownership.

Foter | derekGavey
Foter | derekGavey

South Korea announced it will conduct stricter quality monitoring of pet food products sold all over the country and especially those sold online as pet ownership balloons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Considered a blind spot in South Korea's pet food market, online pet shops will be monitored more closely to make sure the products they sell don't pose any danger to the animals or their owners, the government's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said. Such monitoring will be part of a wider investigation of 650 pet food products currently available around the country. The ministry will also ban sales of pet food with high residue of hazardous chemical elements. At least 73 hazardous chemical elements that can possibly end up in pet food have been identified and the ministry plans to update its checklist by 2023.

A 2019–2020 survey conducted by the ministry showed that over one-quarter of South Korea's household population, or some 591 million households, have a pet or two. With stay-at-home orders in place to prevent COVID-19 transmission, at least 55.3% of those surveyed said they opted to buy pet food and other pet-related supplies from online shops in 2020. This new buying pattern is expected to prevail as South Korea and the rest of the world continue to battle with the mutating COVID-19 disease

Pet food numbers up despite pandemic

South Korea's production of pet food reached 109,781 tons as of 2019, up 16.4% year-on-year. Government data also showed that the country's outbound shipments of pet food products soared 83.5% in 2020 from a year earlier on strong demand from the Asia region. 

Exports of pet food products reached US$67.4 million in 2020, jumping from US$36.7 million in 2019. By country, Japan accounted for 36.4% of the total, followed by Thailand with 26.4% and Vietnam with 8.4%. In contrast, the country's pet food imports amounted to US$270 million in 2020, up 11.9% from 2019 numbers.

Overall, the South Korean pet food market is valued at 890 billion won (US$786 million) as of 2020. In 2023, it is expected to reach 1 trillion won (US$866.9 billion).

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