Pakistani pet food market in turmoil from import ban

The Pakistani pet food market has been growing by double digits a year, but a new ban on imported products is leading to price hikes and could slow growth.

Pakistani Flag Pet Food
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The average price of pet food in Pakistan has nearly doubled over the past month as the government has banned imports of nearly 800 items considered “luxury goods,” including pet food, to stabilize the economy and national currency exchange rate. 

Pakistani pets consume about 6,000 to 8,000 metric tons of pet food each year, and the category is growing by double digits annually, the press office of the Pakistani Pet Food Manufacturers Association told 

The association said that currently, imported pet foods dominate the market, but with the Pakistani population becoming younger and those consumers gaining awareness, “switching to local pet food is a growing trend.”

Bright growth prospects for pet food

Currently, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association comprises seven companies, six of which focus on dry pet food. One, Waggles Pet Foods, produces both dry and wet pet food, including in the premium market segment. 

The Pakistani pet food market has bright growth prospects, said Rafae Dossal, CEO of Waggles. “Pakistan’s pet food demand is growing at a steady 20% CAGR [compound annual growth rate] stemming from rapid urbanization and a spike in nuclear families,” he explained. “The closest regional example is India; our neighboring country ranks seventh in the world in terms of pet ownership. Pakistan is far from this statistic; however, pet adoption is at its highest in the country’s history.”

Pet food import ban leads to price hikes

The pet food ban came as a shock to the market, immediately causing a hike in prices, the Pakistani Pet Food Importers Association said. For instance, a package of Royal Canin dog food jumped to PKR 3,000 (US$14.5), nearly 40%, as dog owners rushed to purchase sufficient reserves because there is no clarity on when the import ban could be lifted. 

Tahir Bajwa, president of the Importers Association, told local press that the demand for locally produced pet food is rather low, as the quality is comparable to that imported from China or Thailand, but inferior to European products. 

Since the beginning of 2022, Pakistan imported pet food worth is US$5 million, the Pakistani Board of Revenue estimated. Although imported pet food is still available in the country, some pet owners cannot afford it due to a sharp rise in prices. 

The Pet Food Importers Association claimed that the import ban has already caused a spate of pet killings in the country, and more pets are likely to die if the ban is not removed soon. 

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association also spoke against the ban on pet food imports, as it could hurt the entire market. On the other hand, they are confident the authorities must revise their import policy to support local businesses. 

“Banning products doesn’t reflect well on a government’s trade policy. The ban on pet food is temporary and will be lifted once the country is economically stable,” the Manufacturers Association said. “However, we suggest the import duty structure on imported pet food should be revised to incentivize local manufacturers, who in turn would be benefiting the country by bringing in foreign currency, which the country essentially requires at this point.”

Pet food exports in the pipeline

On the other hand, Pakistan has already started exporting pet food. The Organic Meat Company Ltd. has recently rolled out plans to export US$1 million worth of pet food to the U.S. and Europe. Waggles harbors plans to launch pet food export to UAE and more countries in the future. 

“At Waggles, we strongly believe in import substitution and generating value for the country by exporting our products. I aim to bring Pakistan on the roadmap for global pet food exports through Waggles,” Rafae said, adding that one of the rationales behind establishing the Pet Food Manufacturers Association was to present a united front to the Ministry of Commerce and be able to highlight the importance of pet food exports to Pakistan’s economy.

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