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Vet visits remain low in PHL despite rise in pet adoption — Royal Canin


INCREASED PET adoption in the Philippines is driving pet food sales, but there has been no corresponding increase in vet visits, according to Royal Canin Philippines.

“We grew close to 35-40% during those years of the pandemic (2020-2022); whereas, in the past, we would be growing a modest 15-20%,” said Gerard Y. Poa, market head of Royal Canin Philippines, the local arm of the French cat and dog food manufacturer.   

“Pets adopted in 2020 are still alive, so you continue to give them the right nutrition… It’s a big boost to exponentially grow the category,” he told BusinessWorld in a Zoom interview.

The Philippines has 26 million pet dogs and eight million pet cats, he noted. 

The country is “very much” a pet dog market, he also said, although cat adoption is increasing in many cities.

Short-form videos of animals and pets received the most engagement on Facebook and Instagram in the first three quarters of 2022, according to Meta, the company that owns the two social media platforms.    

Mr. Poa said that veterinary consultations are part of responsible pet ownership.  

“If you look at the numbers, ‘vetification’ is very, very small,” he said, noting that only 22% and 8% of pet dogs and cats, respectively, are taken to animal clinics for check-ups.

“Pet owners would only take their pets to the vet if there’s something visibly wrong,” he said. The numbers mean that “a lot of dogs we have are not even vaccinated. It’s as basic as that.” 

The vet-patient ratio in the Philippines is 1:21000, much below the ideal ratio of 1:3000. “We work with vet universities to encourage them to take up small animal practice. That way we can improve the ratio here in the Philippines,” Mr. Poa said. 

Total pet food sales in the Philippines is estimated to grow by 9% in 2023 to $434 million from last year’s $397 million, based on a report by the United States Department of Agriculture.  

Worldwide, the pet food market is anticipated to grow a compound annual growth rate of 4.6% between 2022-2027, according to Mordor Intelligence, a market intelligence and advisory firm. 

An increase in pet parenting, as well as a growing awareness of feeding pets with premium and packed pet food, were seen as growth drivers.

According to Mr. Poa, the majority of Royal Canin’s customers come from the upper C to A socioeconomic classes. 

“Human food is not designed for the system of cats and dogs,” he noted. “If you feed them typical food like adobo, which is very salty and full of soy sauce, it will damage their organs. It’s really about education, to make sure that pet owners understand the role of nutrition in making their pets live a longer life,” he added. — Patricia B. Mirasol

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