SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Amid burgeoning pet ownership in South Korea, imports of pet food products have increased drastically, according to data from agriculture authorities.
With over 10 million South Koreans owning a companion animal, imports of pet food products have risen steadily since 2014, widening the gap with the country’s exports of similar products.
In 2014, the ratio of pet food imports in value to exports was 10 to 1, but the gap widened last year, bringing the ratio to 12.7 to 1.
According to data from the Rural Development Administration released Monday by lawmaker Kim Cheol-min, who is a member of the Democratic Party of Korea, as well as the Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans & Fisheries Committee, pet food imports into South Korea between 2013 and 2016 were estimated to be worth over 791 billion won.
The notable growth of the pet food industry comes as South Korea has experienced a steady rise of pet ownership in recent years due to a number of societal changes including an aging population.
Data from 2015 released by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency shows nearly 22 percent of all households in South Korea owned a pet as of last year, up over 4 percent from six years ago.
In the meantime, the pet food industry almost quadrupled over the same period of time from some 200 billion won to nearly 800 billion won in 2017.
However, heavy reliance on imports has emerged as an issue of concern, as over 70 percent of pet food products in the South Korean market are thought to be imported from other countries.
The Rural Development Administration says the phenomenon is the result of South Korean businesses failing to recognize and lead the latest trends, as most of the organic and premium products in high demand are made by foreign producers.
Against this backdrop, Kim argues appropriate measures need to be introduced in order to protect the South Korean pet food industry and tackle the trade deficit in the sector.
“We need to increase technological support for the pet food industry in order to nurture South Korean businesses and spend less money on imports of pet food products,” Kim said.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)