TIANJIN, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Li Guanglin treats his pet dog, a Golden Retriever, to high-end food, snacks and toys, and takes it to a pet beauty shop for bathing and grooming, giving it the same care and attention he would lavish on a child.
"I have spent no less than 60,000 yuan (about 8,418 U.S. dollars) on looking after my pet over the past five years," said Li, who is in his sixties and lives in north China's Tianjin Municipality.
In China, more and more people, both young and old, have taken to caring for pets as a way of life.
"Every time I come home from work, my beloved pet cat crouches at the door waiting for me. The fatigue and worries will soon be swept away," said Zhao Yang, a young woman working in Tianjin. The pet cat has given her companionship through lonely times.
According to a white paper on China's pet business published by Chinese pet industry website pethadoop.com, there were more than 70.43 million urban pet owners (dogs and cats) in China in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 2.9 percent.
Data from consulting company Frost & Sullivan shows that the number of pets in China is expected to increase to 446 million by 2024.
William Chen, vice president of Nestle Purina PetCare, Zone Greater China, said the Chinese pet industry has been around for less than 30 years, but with the improvement in consumers' living standards and changes in household consumption structures, China's pet consumption market is developing vigorously.
According to research firm iiMedia Research, the industry scale of China's pet economy hit 493.6 billion yuan in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 25.2 percent, while its market size is expected to reach 811.4 billion yuan by 2025.
Such a huge potential for growth in China's pet economy has attracted many domestic and foreign companies to join in and make further investments.
Swiss food giant Nestle built a pet-food factory in China as early as 2007. In April 2023, it launched a new high-end wet canned pet food production line in Tianjin, which is Nestle's fourth high-end wet pet food production line in the world and the first outside of Europe and the United States.
"The dry pet food production line, with higher production standards and processing techniques, has also been put into full operation. We have production capacity for many different pet product categories in China now," Chen said.
Trying not to be outdone, a Tianjin-based pet food company called Yuanchuangpinzhi has established two automated production lines for pet food, including canned cat food, running at full capacity since September 2022.
"We mainly engage in the research and development, production and sales of pet food. Since its establishment in 2018, the company has achieved annual sales of over 100 million yuan," said Wang Chen, co-founder of the company.
Not only has the sector of processing and marketing pet food developed rapidly, but other pet-related industries such as pet care, grooming, training and insurance, are also thriving.
Ringpai Pet Hospital, founded in 2012, has established nearly 600 pet clinics in 70 cities in China, receiving over three million pets annually.
"The pet healthcare industry is a rapidly growing market. We expect to surpass 1,000 pet clinics by 2025," said Hu Wenqiang, rotating president of the hospital.
In recent years, China's authorities have issued a series of management measures and regulatory policies for pet medical treatment, drugs and food to support the development of the pet industry.
According to data released by qcc.com, an enterprise credit inquiry system platform, China now has over 2.47 million pet-related enterprises, with nearly one million new related start-ups in 2022.
China's pet industry is developing fast, and the related consumption shows enormous vitality, bringing huge potential for growth in the pet economy, said Xin Shengpeng, vice president of the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association.
However, the continuous expansion of the "pet economy" means that relevant regulatory policies are also needed to guide the industry's healthy and sound development, Xin said.