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Smart Products Prove the Highlight of the 2016 Guangzhou Pet Fair

Innovative gadgets designed to keep pets entertained and cared for were widely available at the Guangzhou International Pet Industry Fair, while there was also an increased focus on pet health, with information on better pet care proving particularly popular with attendees.

Photo: One of the events many pet shows.
One of the events many pet shows.
Photo: One of the events many pet shows.
One of the events many pet shows.

The mood at this year's Guangzhou International Pet Industry Fair was broadly positive, with exhibitors expressing confidence in the mainland pet industry. Smart pet products showed strong growth, while pet health products and services were ever more personalised and professional. Pet food quality was also a focus for many exhibitors, another aspect of owners' increasing concern for, and knowledge of, their pets' health. There was some suggestion, however, that the Chinese pet care sector still lags behind other countries in terms of price-competition and quality of service.

Smart Products Offer Multiple Functions

Photo: A Pet-Tower feeder courtesy of Hong Kong’s I Pet.
A Pet-Tower feeder courtesy of Hong Kong's I Pet.
Photo: A Pet-Tower feeder courtesy of Hong Kong’s I Pet.
A Pet-Tower feeder courtesy of Hong Kong's I Pet.

Many exhibitors were offering smart pet products with novel designs and diverse functions, attracting interest from both trade buyers and pet owners. The Pet-Tower from I Pet Interactive Technology from Hong Kong, was one example. Company representative Liang Dawei explained that this product pairs an automatic pet feeder with a mobile app, making it possible to feed pets remotely, either at pre-set times or through the internet. The owner can also monitor the pet's activities in real time through the feeder's built-in camera. The product's display screen was highlighted as a point of difference over similar products in the market.

When an owner cannot feed a pet on time because of work or travel, it can be done remotely through the smart phone app. This app also allows the owner and pet to interact and see each other through the feeder's built-in camera and screen. The owner can also store his image on the feeder, which will call the pet when the scheduled feeding function is used.

Based on his pet psychology training, Liang Dawei has designed several videos for the feeder and has tested these on different breeds of dog. The results showed the dogs were attracted by the images on the videos. These videos can be downloaded via the app for the pets to watch, to help prevent pet boredom and discourage destructive behaviour while their owners are away from home.

The Pet-Tower can accurately dispense each portion and store the feeding record in the cloud for the owner to check at any time. When food levels are running low, the app can alert the pet owner to place an order online.

The feeder is priced at Rmb1,500 and has attracted interest from buyers around the world, including Spain, Italy, France and the US, even though it was not officially launched until April this year. Liang said the first order from Italy was for 50,000 units.

Photo: Jiuyuan’s smart pet tracker.
Jiuyuan's smart pet tracker.
Photo: Jiuyuan’s smart pet tracker.
Jiuyuan's smart pet tracker.
Photo: A popular booth at the show.
A popular booth at the show.
Photo: A popular booth at the show.
A popular booth at the show.

The need for a regular feeding and exercise schedule to keep pets healthy was the reason behind the smart pet tracker exhibited by Wuxi software developer, Jiuyuan, which attracted a great deal of attention at the show. Jiuyuan's Sales Director, Wu Pengfei, explained that the iMcon tracker comes in two versions. One uses the Bluetooth function of a smartphone to connect with a tracker worn around the pet's neck, which will send an alert to owners if the pet runs beyond a given distance, while the professional version is GPS-enabled for greater range.

The tracker has a stylish design and comes in different colours. Jiuyuan carried out crowdfunding on JD.com at the end of February and early March this year and has already received orders for more than 3,000 units.

Pet Health A Top Priority

Photo: Great Sun’s Rvet app in action.
Great Sun's Rvet app in action.
Photo: Great Sun’s Rvet app in action.
Great Sun's Rvet app in action.

Many exhibits at the event focussed on pet health. The Rvet mobile phone app developed by Shenzhen Great Sun Network Technology offers a professional vet service. According to Great Sun's Marketing Director, Han Xue, users only have to tap a key on the app to receive a call from a qualified vet. The app teams up with famous animal hospitals to provide round-the-clock service. The app was launched in November 2015 and already has about 100,000 registered users. Han Xue expected the number of registered users to rise to 200,000 to 300,000 this year.

The Pet-Tower from I Pet was also designed with an animal's health in mind. According to Liang Dawei, the raised pawprint inside the feeding bowl was devised in line with the eating habits of dogs. The raised design can prevent the dog from eating too fast. There is a weight sensor under the bowl which measures any uneaten food, then reduces the next amount dispensed to avoid over-feeding.

As well as producing the Pet-Tower, I Pet also imports pet health supplements from abroad, including a skin disorders remedy from the US. This preparation promotes cell repair and can heal troubled skin in a week or two, according to Liang, who added that the product is inexpensive but effective.

Pet Market Promises Great Potential

Wu Pengfei of Jiuyuan said that the pet sector is undoubtedly a rising industry on the mainland. His company has launched several pet-related software and hardware products in recent years in view of the market's great potential.

I Pet's Liang Dawei previously lived in Canada for more than 20 years, also working in the pet business in that time. He said he saw a business opportunity in the growing mainland pet market, but believes that the mainland's pet industry still lags behind other countries.

In Liang Dawei's opinion, the mainland pet sector trails behind not just in technology but also in professional standards. Many animal hospitals charge unreasonably high fees, making it very costly to keep pets. Other countries have drug dispensaries for animals, but these are not yet common on the mainland.

Liang Dawei's company has imported a wide variety of pet drugs to help pet shops build up their image as pet dispensaries. He believed that this would be good both for pet shops and pet owners, as the use of high quality medicines can help maintain an animal's health and save their owners from considerable hospital expenses.

Photo: Popular with attendees: A pet grooming class.
Popular with attendees: A pet grooming class.
Photo: Popular with attendees: A pet grooming class.
Popular with attendees: A pet grooming class.
Photo: Animal passion: Pet-loving attendees.
Animal passion: Pet-loving attendees.
Photo: Animal passion: Pet-loving attendees.
Animal passion: Pet-loving attendees.

In addition, I Pet has collaborated with pet groomers from Taiwan to provide onsite training. Liang Dawei said that in spite of its many shortcomings, the mainland pet industry still holds great potential, especially in the areas of pet supplies, pet food, pet health and pet grooming.

Other exhibitors attracting attention at the show included Guangzhou Sunon Commercial Co Ltd with its grain-free pet food. Zhuhai's biotech company Yaho Pet presented its pet biscuits which contain nine amino acids to improve pets' coats, aid digestion and reduce animal odours. Guangzhou Pet International Trade Co Ltd also introduced its Iasuo pet shampoo, which is mild, non-irritating and does not hurt pet owners' hands.

The Second China (Guangzhou) International Pet Industry Fair 2016 took place on 18-20 March at the Guangzhou International Sourcing Center, Pazhou.

Xing Bin, Special Correspondent, Guangzhou

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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