South Korean pet food imports grew US$108M from 2018-22

China ranks as South Korea’s top pet food supplier with a 30% market share.

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Andrea Gantz

South Korea’s pet food imports grew from US$239 million in 2018 to US$347 million in 2022, according to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. China ranks as South Korea’s top supplier of pet food with a 30% market share. The United States follows with 21%, and Thailand comes in 3rd with 13% of South Korea’s pet food import market.

Cats outnumbered dogs in South Korea last year. The cat population was forecast to grow 4% in 2023. The dog population was anticipated to grow more slowly. The South Korean pet dog population’s annual growth rate has been 3% or less since 2019.

Wet cat food, treats and mixers are projected to see the strongest growth rates. While wet dog food continues to gain market share, inflation has pushed dog food retail prices up between 10% and 20%. Under inflationary pressure, dog owners have become more price-aware.

Pet food trade agreement between US and South Korea

Dog and cat food exports from the United States to South Korea originally had a 5% tariff rate. With the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), U.S. dog and cat food exports enter South Korea duty-free.

South Korea is one of the United States‚Äô top 10 goods trading partners, thanks in part to KORUS. The trade pact entered into force on March 15, 2012. KORUS reduced or eliminated tariffs on a wide range of goods and services, including pet food, facilitating smoother trade flows.

South Korean pet food export numbers

South Korea also produces its own pet foods and exports them. In 2023, South Korea‚Äôs pet food exports grew by 56% on-year through September to set a new record, according to data from the Korea Customs Service shows, reported Petfood Industry‚Äôs Alma Buelva.

Customs reported that outbound shipments of pet products reached US$116 million up until September 2022, surpassing US$111 million posted for all of 2021. The customs office said cat and dog food products accounted for US$61 million and US$47 million, respectively. Other goods, including leashes and clothes, accounted for US$8 million.

South Korea's pet food exports primarily went to Japan which imported US$4.5 million (39%), followed by Thailand with US$1.7 million and Australia with $1.5 million.

The customs office said South Korea's imports of other pet products also grew from January to September 2022 with 17% on-year valued at US$291 million.


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