Japanese Pet Industry Development Overview

Japanese Pet Industry Development Overview

The history of the pet industry in Japan

Japanese pet culture has a long history, and pet consumption rose after World War II.

With the increase in the number of pet owners, industry laws have gradually emerged, industry norms have been gradually improved, and the richness of pet-related products and services has dramatically increased. The development of the Japanese pet industry after World War II is divided into three periods:

Getting started (before the 1970s and 1980s),

Growth period (the 1970s and 1980s to 21st century)

Mature period (21st century to present).

1. The initial stage: industry associations have been emerged one by one, legislation and regulations protect pet owners and pets

The origin of Japanese pet culture is far-reaching. The origin of Japanese cats is related to China. In the Tang Dynasty (around the 6th century AD), cats were first brought to Japan by Japanese merchants and monks; during the 8th to 12th centuries, cats became pets of the noble class due to the scarcity of exotic species.

Japan Emperor Uta was the representative of the early “cat slaves.” Since the 1980s, cats have appeared in large numbers of cartoon images such as “hello kitty,” Doraemon, and Totoro in Japanese animation, film and television, and literary works representing Japanese culture.

In the early days of Japanese culture, dogs acted more as human servants, assisting hunting, guarding the house, and guarding the government.

With the formation of the awareness of keeping pets, dogs’ loyal and cute characteristics attract more people to choose to keep dogs. Dogs have become one of the leading choices in the Japanese pet market, and the number of dog owners and the number of pet dogs continues to grow.

Pet industry associations and laws and regulations with legal personality have become the basis for the development and management of the pet industry.

In 1948, Japan first established the Japan Animal Protection Association and established three other related associations. These associations have played an active role in the industry’s regulation and development. The industry associations’ work and results have also assisted in the subsequent government’s pet governance and control.

In 1973, Japan issued the “Animal Protection and Management Law,” which protects and manages non-wild animals.

Since then, following the law, many standards for the breeding, protecting, and managing cats and dogs, display animals, experimental animals, and industrial animals have been formulated. The association and the government cooperate to continuously standardize the early Japanese pet control system to ensure pets’ protection and protect the legal rights of pet owners, pet owners, pets, and stray pets.

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2. Development period: the rapid growth of the number of pets promotes the rapid growth of related industries

The improvement of the law has further deepened the relationship between people and pets. People no longer treat dogs and cats as “pets” but as a part of the family.

In 1999, the “Animal Protection and Management Law” was amended and renamed the “Animal Care and Management Law.” This law starts from the spirit of caring for animals, further strengthens the responsibility to animal owners, and strengthens the tasks and powers of local administrative agencies. Begin to formulate regulations for pet-related practitioners. In 2005, to further promote the protection of animals, the “Animal Care and Management Law” was revised again.

The pet food industry, which is just needed for pet raising, has ushered in a period of rapid growth for nearly four decades.

The pet food industry grew rapidly due to the advancement of pet-raising concepts. More and more families have pets at home.

Kyodo Shiryo launched Japan’s first pet food in 1960 and invested in constructing Japan’s first professional pet food factory in 1972. In 1978, according to the statistics of the Japan Pet Food Industry Association, the scale of pet food terminals in Japan had reached 36 billion yen. In 1992, it exceeded 280 billion yen. The compound growth rate of the industry reached 15.8%, while the compound growth rate of Japan’s GDP was about 6.3 in the same period. %.

3. Maturity: The increase in consumption offsets the decline in the number of pets, and the growth tends to stabilize

The maturity of Japanese pets is characterized by fewer and fewer dogs and increasingly hot cats.

Due to the economic recession and the deepening of aging, pet dogs have been declining. In comparison, cats are less affected, and “cat economics” is becoming more and more popular. “Cat economics” means that no matter how challenging the economy is, the public’s enthusiasm for cats and related products is always high. As long as businesses use cats, they can attract attention and benefit from them.

The current situation of the Japanese pet market

1. Number of dogs and cats in Japan

As of October 2020, the number of pets in Japan has reached 18.13 million, of which 8.5 million are pet dogs, and 9.6 million are pet cats. The number of cats and dogs has exceeded that of children aged 15 or younger (15.3 million ). This is partly due to the increase in the number of new pet owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, the four most popular dog breeds in Japan were small dogs, namely Toy Poodle (13.1% of the total number of dogs), Chihuahua (12.8%), Shibas (11.8%), and Small Dachshund (11.3%). Since 2016, these varieties have been the four most popular varieties. Small dogs are more prevalent in Japan mainly due to the aging of the population and the increase in working couples. People’s lifestyles have changed. Many people do not want to keep large dogs because of troublesome care and loud barking.

In terms of cats, the majority of cats that Japan likes (75.5%) are hybrid cats, followed by American shorthair cats (4.8% of the total number of cats) and Scottish fold cats (3.4%).

Due to the continuous improvement of pet medical conditions, and 84.7% of dogs and 90.4% of cats are kept indoors all year round, Japanese pets are less likely to get sick and live longer.

In Japan, the life expectancy of a dog is 14.5 years, and that of a cat is approximately 15.5 years. The growth of elderly cats and dogs makes pet owners want to maintain the health of elderly pets by supplementing nutrition. Therefore, the increase of elderly pets directly promotes the growth of high-end pet food consumption. The trend of the humanization of pets in Japan is evident under the background of the upgrading of pet supplies consumption.

2. Japan’s pet food industry scale

According to data from Japan’s Yano Economic Research Institute, the market size of the Japanese pet industry reached 1.570 billion yen (approximately 99.18 billion yuan) in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 1.67%. Among them, the pet food market was 425 billion yen (approximately 26.8 billion yuan), an increase of 0.71% year on year, accounting for about 27.07% of the entire pet industry in Japan.

From the perspective of pet food imports, Japan imported 263,494 metric tons of pet food in 2019, accounting for 44.4% of Japan’s total domestic pet food consumption. Among them, Thailand ranked first in Japan’s pet food import market with a 33% market share, followed by the United States with 16.4%, and France ranked third with only 16%. Together, these three exporting countries accounted for approximately 65% of Japan’s total pet food imports in 2019. However, the preference for domestically produced pet food has caused the domestic pet food market share to rise by more than 50%.

3. Japanese pet food sales

In 2019, Japanese pet food sales exceeded US$3 billion. This is an increase of 3.5% over 2018 and is the fourth consecutive year of growth in pet food sales. Between 2018 and 2019, pet food sales fell by less than 1% and remained at a stable level of approximately 594,000 metric tons, indicating that pet food product prices have risen across the board.

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Dry dog food sales totaled 176,609 metric tons, accounting for 67.3% of pet food market sales in 2019, down 5.1% from 2018. Sales of soft dry (21,570 metric tons) and semi-moist (5,104 metric tons) dog food decreased by 3.2% and 1%, respectively, while sales of wet dog food (34,017 metric tons) increased 4.1%.

In terms of value, dry dog food sales were US$718 million, an increase of 5.6% over 2018. Wet dog food sales increased 8.1% to US$207 million. Between 2018 and 2019, sales of soft dry dog food and semi-moist dog food also increased to US$64 million and US$27 million, respectively. In 2019, the total sales of dog food in Japan reached 1.36 billion U.S. dollars.

In 2019, dry cat food sales accounted for 63.9% of the cat food market at 194,078 tons, increasing 2.1% since 2018. Although semi-moist cat food was still a tiny and new category in 2019, only 33 tons, since 2018, semi-moist cat food has achieved the most significant growth with a growth rate of 365%. Wet cat food increased by 2.1% to 106,463 tons.

From 2018 to 2019, the total value of Japanese cat food increased by 7.9% to US$1.59 billion. Sales of all other cat food product categories increased in 2019, except soft and dry cat food, whose sales fell by 33.3% to a total of approximately US$200,000. Sales of semi-moist cat food soared 9.795% to approximately US$900,000, while sales of moist cat food increased by 8.6% to approximately US$725 million.

The increase in semi-moist and moist pet foods sales represents a global shift towards moist diets and nutritional products for cats and dogs.

4. Japanese pet food sales channels and brands

The most popular pet food distribution channels in Japan are professional pet product wholesalers. The most popular pet food retail channels include home furnishing centers, discount stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and pet stores. E-commerce is also developing steadily in this field. The proportion of online channels increased slightly, from 11.5% in 2015 to 13.1% in 2019.

Regarding Japanese pet brands, the top five Japanese pet food industry giants Mars, Unicharm, Colgate, Nestlé and Inaba Prices had a market share of 20.1%, 13%, 9%, 7.2%, 4.9%, respectively in 2019. In the past five years, the market share of local Japanese brands Unicharm and Inaba has increased year by year, increasing by 1.2% and 2.1%, respectively.

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