U.S. Pet Food is Up to the Challenge

After record-setting export sales increases in 2021 and 2022, U.S. pet food exports decreased by about 3% in 2023 from $2.48 billion to $2.4 billion. One surprising outcome was in the Asian markets, which had the highest growth rates in 2021 and 2022 but the largest losses in 2023. These decreases could be for several reasons. Global inflation is still high after 2023, and while inflation rates have fallen, pet food prices continue to be high across several international markets. Inflation, rising costs, and the Asian economic downturn have caused consumers to be more price-driven when choosing pet food. While U.S. pet food is widely recognized as healthy and safe in Asian markets, local brands can adapt quickly to consumer attitude shifts, and they are often priced lower than U.S. pet food.

Despite the downturn in Asia, U.S. pet food was in high demand in other markets. Canada remains our largest importer, with $1.2 billion in trade in 2023. The markets that experienced the largest percentage growth were Mexico and Jamaica. The U.S. pet food industry’s third largest market, Mexico, saw an increase of 16 percent to $206 million from the previous year’s $177 million, while Jamaica saw a 16.9 percent increase to $5.3 million from $4.5 million in 2022.

Pet ownership is rising, and the bond between pet owners and their companion animals is deepening. Consumer data shows that in many markets, people consider their pets family members and strongly desire them. This societal change creates opportunities to bring safe, healthy U.S. pet food to pet parents worldwide. As a cooperator in the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), PFI uses USDA grant funds to engage in marketing activities across seventeen countries to promote the safety and quality of U.S. pet food. Our in-country representatives carry out activities such as community events to educate consumers, attending veterinary conferences, advancing media campaigns under the direction of PFI, and following a global marketing strategy that promotes the safety, quality, and nutritional value of U.S. pet food.

PFI is working to change the trajectory in those markets that have experienced challenges in 2023. PFI has submitted a funding proposal for the new USDA Regional Agriculture Promotion Program (RAPP). This program was created to promote U.S. agriculture in non-traditional and emerging markets, specifically in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. PFI has applied for funds for Brazil, South Korea, Central America, Taiwan, South Africa, and the Global RAPP, which can be used across markets. If awarded RAPP funding, we will be able to supplement the work we are doing in the MAP markets and expand our efforts to South Africa.

All U.S. pet food makers can utilize resources such as the Market Tracker on the PFI website to explore market opportunities for pet food. PFI also has in-country representatives to help U.S. pet food makers find trusted importers and provide trade leads to interested U.S. companies. For more information, please visit or contact Dana Waters.

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