What's New in British Columbia - Spotlight on Pet Food

Spring 2017

  • Canadian dollar (CAD$)

Sector information

Canada's pet food market is expanding to become more competitive and diverse. Pet humanization has been a driving force for the pet food industry for many years, and this trend is only increasing. Over 57% of households in Canada own a pet. As these pets are being treated more like companions and members of the family, concerns over their health and wellness are rising. In response to market demand, the pet food industry has placed heavy emphasis on incorporating natural, organic, eco-friendly, health-focused products on the shelves to increase choice for pet owners. Gluten-free and food allergy conscious, as well as locally and ethically sourced ingredients are the top pet food trends currently shaping the Canadian pet food market.

Did you know?

There are over 2,000 pet specialty stores in Canada – 1 for every 1.75 major grocery retailers.

Dog and cat food products can be bought in many forms, the top being dry food, semi-moist food and wet canned food. Dry food is generally less expensive, and has a longer shelf life in comparison to wet food. In 2014, dry dog food sales in Canada reached $718.8 CAD million, while dry cat food sales were $427.2 CAD million. In the wet food category, cat food sales led with $229 CAD million, and wet dog food sales in Canada remained steady at $137.2 CAD million.

Pet food exports from Canada have nearly doubled in the past five years and are expected to continue to grow. In 2016, Canada exported 197 million kilograms of pet food throughout the world, valued at $629 CAD million. The largest export markets were the United States, followed by Russia and Japan. British Columbia (BC) is Canada's fourth largest exporter of pet food, contributing $30 CAD million in export in 2016. Since 2012, BC's pet food exports have increased by over 120%, with top export markets being the United States, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Significant increases in export to Hong Kong, Korea, and Mexico have taken place in the past five years. Since the Canada Korea Free Trade Agreement took effect in 2015, pet food exports to Korea have increased by 160%. In the coming years, a substantial increase in exports to the European Union (EU) is forecasted. Once the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) enters into force, all EU tariffs on imports of Canadian pet food, some as high as $1,341/tonne, will become duty-free.

BC exports of pet food worldwide

BC Exports: Description of this image follows.
BC exports of pet food worldwide
Year Exports (CAD$)
2012 13,615,155
2013 20,701,494
2014 23,799,155
2015 35,164,670
2016 30,794,591

Source: Statistics Canada

Top pet food trends

  • Locally sourced products
  • Ethically sourced ingredients
  • Free-from allergens

Association profile

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) of Canada was established in March of 1988. They are a non-profit, member-based national trade association representing various sectors of the Canadian pet industry. Animal welfare holds the upmost importance to PIJAC and they are dedicated to helping Canadian businesses reach the highest level of pet care attainable. They provide guidance, resources, and opportunities to the industry to help businesses not only grow, but constantly improve the services and products they provide. One of PIJAC's main goals is to maintain and grow exports in current markets and encourage expansion into new markets.

According to Rénald Sabourin, Assistant Executive Director of PIJAC, the export market for premium and super premium cat and dog food is continuously expanding. The main reason behind this is the trend towards “pet humanization”, which has created a wide market for health and wellness products. This trend has increased opportunities for Canadian pet food processors in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and regions of Eastern Europe, where demand for premium and super premium pet foods are highest.

The council is especially pleased with growth in the EU market. From February 2015 to February 2016, exports of dog and cat foods to the EU increased by 25.8% with total export sales reaching $ 79.4 CAD million. The success in the EU can be credited to the effort Canadian pet food exporters have made to meet the EU's food safety standards, which are considered to be the most stringent in the world. Additional factors that have contributed to their success include meeting with potential buyers at international trade shows, keeping up with market trends, and their experience working with private labels.

PIJAC assists Canadian businesses with export by helping manufacturers and distributers address regulatory issues as they arise, working with The Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) to push for the resolution of trade access issues, organizing Canadian Pavilions and incoming and outgoing trade missions, and assisting exporting companies with funding under Growing Forward II, a federal-provincial-territorial funding initiative. PIJAC has an extensive role in enabling profitable expansion into new markets and works with Canadian trade commissioners around the world to research market information and secure lists of buyers. The council states that the emerging markets they are targeting are Latin America, Russia, and Asia-Pacific. A specific focus is being placed on China as Canada and China have recently begun exploratory discussions on the potential of launching a free trade agreement. PIJAC organized two missions in 2016, one in Tokyo, Japan and one in Guangzhou, China, and received a positive response from Chinese distributers.

PIJAC mainly supports export market development for the Canadian pet food industry through trade missions and trade shows. The Canadian Pavilions organized by the council at international tradeshows have built a global awareness of the quality of products produced in Canada. PIJAC groups as many Canadian manufacturers as they can under one big Canada Brand structure, providing an umbrella for the Canadian presence. This enables Canadian pet food producers to leverage their quality products using the trusted Canada Brand reputation. This method also has the added benefit of improving relations within our Canadian industry which leads to sharing of information or, in some cases, partnerships. The top three international trade shows PIJAC coordinates a Canadian Pavilion for are Zoomark in Italy, Interzoo in Germany, and Global Pet Expo in the United States. The Canadian presence at these events has contributed greatly to the demand for Canadian brand pet food products internationally.

Website: www.pijaccanada.com

In the News

  • BC medical marijuana company to distribute pet products in New Zealand
    Business in Vancouver - True Leaf Pet has entered into a deal with Christchurch's Liberty Premium Pet Products to distribute its True Hemp-branded pet chews in pet stores across the country, marking the company's first foray into the Asia Pacific region. “With no other comparable hemp-based therapeutic dog products already on the market in New Zealand, we are enthusiastic about the release of True Hemp and eager to see the response of dog owners to True Hemp,” said Carl Reese, Liberty's managing partner.
  • Demand for raw dog food in Canada soars despite veterinary warnings
    Vancouver Sun - Raw food for dogs is one of the fastest growing segments in Canada's fast growing pet-sector, a market that is set to pass $8 billion in annual spending in Canada. Pet owners are directing more cash toward “prey” diets and “biologically appropriate raw food” based on the notion that dogs should be eating food that approximates the diet of wolves.

For more information, please contact the Northwestern Departmental Regional Office in BC at 604-292-5858 or at aafc.atsbccalendar-calendrierseacb.aac@canada.ca.

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