The 2020 election fever in Taiwan turned “catty” in November 2019, when a massive billboard of President Tsai Ing-wen and her cat, named Think Think, was unveiled near a high-traffic area in Taipei.
According to Taiwan News, Tsai, a known cat lover, used her latest political billboard ad to push for tax cuts while Think Think the cat asked voters to buy her some cat food to eat.
The political medium got mixed reviews from the general public, but it's a move worth taking as Think Think's endorsement could translate to Tsai votes from those who own the estimated 1.3 million pet cats in Taiwan today.
Taiwan pet food market
Think Think's cat food-inspired political pitch doesn't ring hollow either, as it is probably aware of the country's nearly US$180 million pet food (dog and cat food) market in 2018. By 2020 Taiwan is expected to handle an estimated 5.5 thousand metric tons and 25.7 thousand metric tons of wet and dry pet food, respectively, according to research firm Mordor Intelligence.
The Taiwanese pet food market is also expected to be worth US$310 million by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.56% over the forecast period (2019–24). The market is characterized by high-quality awareness and preference, and the willingness of the consumer to pay for such products.
Meanwhile, President Tsai would also be pleased to know that cats are increasingly becoming more popular than pet dogs in Taiwan. Data from the Executive Yuan R.O.C Council of Agriculture (COA) shows the country's pet cat population steadily growing faster than that of dogs since 2014.
From 2018: Taiwan’s pet ownership trends
Taiwan is one of the wealthiest economies in Asia, and rising incomes and strong western influences have resulted in more people acquiring pets. Latest industry estimates put the number of pet cats and pet dogs in Taiwan at 1.3 million and 1.7 million, respectively. The pet ownership rate is highest in Taipei, the capital city.
When it comes to pet dogs, most Taiwanese think the bigger the breed, the better, as this is an indication of a family's wealth and ownership of a spacious home. Shiba Inu and Poodles are the most popular dog breeds in Taiwan.
But pet cats are increasingly becoming more popular than pet dogs as Taiwanese see felines as easier to maintain and generally cleaner than dogs. In 2017, some 220,000 cats were registered as pets, and the COA expects to see the growth momentum in pet cats to continue.