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Chinese pet ownership goes urban

China’s rising middle class and urbanization determine pet ownership demographics.

BY ANNA GIRGENTI ON APRIL 23, 2019

A growing middle class and urbanization in China is contributing to a boom in pet ownership among people over 65 years old and people under 30, according to a 2018 report from Euromonitor International. Disposable income has risen among these two populations of pet owners, particularly in the country’s largest cities where pet ownership has increased. China’s population demographics, economy and cultural trends all play a role in the country’s unique and booming pet food market.

People over 65 years old accounted for more than one tenth of China’s population in 2017, according to Euromonitor. Desire for companionship and sufficient income have resulted in 61% of people in this age group owning a pet. In addition, disposable income in China’s urban households has increased every year since 2010, according to a report released by the Polish Investment and Trade Agency. China’s younger population, people between 20 and 30 years old, constitute the emerging middle class looking to own pets as their careers begin in urban areas.

As the younger population focuses on financial security, the cost of raising children is considerably less daunting than owning pets, even highly pampered ones. However, the economic boom in China’s urban areas comes at a cost to the younger population. Possibly due to unstable work-life balance, the younger generation is spending less on dining out and recreation, according to a Chinese Pet Industry White Paper released in 2017. The result is more disposable income and an increased desire for companionship — good news for the pet industry.

Perhaps capitalizing on pet ownership among the younger generation, China’s online pet food sales are stronger than in more developed markets, according to the Polish Investment and Trade Agency. In 2017, 7% of U.S. pet food was purchased online, compared to 38 percent in China. When purchasing pet food, Chinese pet owners are more concerned with the food’s nutritional value than its palatability, indicating a growing market for premium and superpremium pet food.

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