Pet Treat Market, Sales Continue to Grow; Treats That Double as Toothpaste Particularly Popular

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A staff member at Lion Pet Co. gives a dog a snack that doubles as toothpaste, one of the company’s products, in this photo taken at the company in Taito Ward, Tokyo.

Sales of dog and cat “treats” are growing in the pet market.

Behind this market trend is a pet owner practice that gained popularity during the many at-home hours of the COVID-19 pandemic: the “practice of giving treats” to pets. Another reason for the expansion of the market is pet owners’ growing awareness of pet health due to the unprecedented longevity of pets.

Though consumer prices continue to rise, little restraint has been seen in purchases of pet-related goods, and companies continue to enter the market one after another.

“There’s still plenty of room for expansion in the pet treat market,” says Yuji Kimura, managing director of Lion Pet Co., a subsidiary of leading consumer products manufacturer Lion Corp. He has high hopes for the sales forecast for pet treats. Treats that double as toothpaste are selling particularly well.

The elastic material inside the treats removes plaque from the teeth of dogs and cats as they chew. Last year, sales of toothpaste treats for dogs rose 11.7% from a year earlier.

Unicharm Corp., which manufactures pet care products, had sales of ¥139.4 billion in 2023, a 1.7-fold increase compared with the sales it posted in 2018.

Last fall, Unicharm, jointly with leading confectioner Morinaga & Co., started selling a dog version of “Marie Biscuit,” popular biscuits for humans that are made by Morinaga. An official in charge of PR at Unicharm said, “Pet owners desire to feed their pets high quality food more and more each year.”

According to the Japan Pet Food Association, the number of dogs and cats kept as pets in Japan has been on a slight decline. In contrast, the money pet owners spend on their beloved animals has been increasing.

Intage Inc., a private market research firm, says Japan’s pet food market had been hovering flat in the pre-pandemic days but has been increasing every year since 2020.

The sales value of pet treats was 1.4-fold higher in 2023 than in 2017. Analyst Toshimitsu Kiji at Intage points out, “Compared to human food products, which see a decline in sales as prices increase, purchases of treats and other expensive pet products have boosted the pet product market.”

Additionally, the number of companies entering the pet product market has increased.

S.T. Corp., a leading manufacturer of deodorizers and air fresheners, entered the market in 2022, selling cat deodorant among other products. The company has accelerated its investments in related products, acquiring Kao Corp.’s cat toilet seat business last December in addition to other investments.

ROHTO Pharmaceutical Co. in 2022 formed a business alliance with AHB Inc., a Tokyo-based firm that operates pet stores nationwide, and is considering expanding its business of developing health-related pet products.