There were two significant events for the pet food industry in 2009. One was the government’s approval of Japan Pet Food Association becoming an incorporated association in April. In May I succeeded the previous Chairman Takahara to become the new Chairman of the association. At the same time, I had the honor of succeeding former Chairman Ishiyama of the Pet Food Fair Trade Association in assuming that post. It is indeed a sobering experience to feel the weight of social responsibility of the posts for the two organizations.
The other event is the fact that the “Law Concerning the Securing of Safety for Pet Foods,” the so-called “Pet Food Safety Law” was enforced on June 1. Our incorporated association, Japan Pet Food Association has been making efforts to enhance the quality and safety of pet foods. As the Japanese society has recognized pets as family members we accepted the serious reality that the “Pet Food Safety Law” has been enforced. Each member of this association has pledged to work even harder to enhance the safety and quality of pet foods.
On the other hand, while it can be said that the total market for pet foods has maintained brisk growth on a monetary basis compared to other industries, the actual content of the growth is not something one can rejoice about hands down. When you look at the total pet food market, we have seen growth for the past three years on a monetary basis, but in terms of weight volume, there has been a decline for six consecutive years. While there may be various reasons, the biggest reason seems to be the trend toward people owning smaller dogs and the stagnant growth in the actual number of dogs&cats.
In order to create a breakthrough in this situation and revitalize the market for pet related products, I believe it is the responsibility of every person involved in the pet industry to make an effort to continue to grow the number of all types of pets, including dogs, cats, small animals, birds and aquarium fish.
In order to increase the number of pets, it is necessary to inform every person in the society various benefits one gains from living together with pets. Researches are being actively conducted in Europe and the United States on the benefits people gain from pets. Some examples are the fact that people’s visits to doctors has declined after they start caring for pets, or that the death rate of pet-owners with cardiac diseases is one fifth of that than those without pets. There are countless beneficial effects for people living with pets, such as seniors suffering from dementia showing recovery; school-refusing children going back to classes; decline in juvenile delinquency, or troubled married couples getting back together again. If everyone truly knows that owning a pet has such physical and psychological effects the number of dogs, cats, small animals, birds and aquarium fish are bound to increase, and I am convinced that there will be revitalization of the pet industry.
Also, as other ways to increase the number of pets, we must engage in the task of making pets socially acceptable such as taking preventive measures in pet losses and encouraging people to own more than one pet. We must also aggressively show people the wonderful experience of living with large dogs.
In any event, as the first step toward “making people aware of the beneficial effects of owning pets,” I believe we should create catchphrases that simply describe the beneficial effects of owning pets and distribute them at various events, seminars, academic circles, exhibits, store fronts and the home pages of corporations and organizations and Internets with the cooperation of all pet related companies, related organizations and veterinarian associations.
The catch line I am currently thinking about is “The Health of Mind and Body Brought to You by Pets.” It is no exaggeration to say that the interest in Japan toward the health industry is extremely high as we move toward an aging society. While there are health foods and health equipment that are effective for the physical body, there is no health food or health equipment that works beneficially for the “mind.” Living with pets has the effect of maintaining and improving the health of people’s mind and body. In that context the pet industry is the true form of “health industry.” If this awareness expands, people will renew their outlook on the added value that comes from the pet industry as a whole. And, I am convinced that it will establish an immovable position in our society of low birth rate and aging population.
As Chairman of the incorporated Japan Pet Food Association, I intend to firmly fulfill my assigned task to make “beneficial effects of pets” widely known throughout the society with the guidance of the pet and related companies or groups in order to ensure further growth to the pet industry.
Honorary Chairman of Japan Pet Food Association, an Incorporated Association