Market and Trade Data
Stake Out the Pet Food
Market in the Dominican Republic
By Wagner A.
FAS Report DR7002
years ago, almost all the pet foods imported into the
Dominican Republic came from the United States. That
changed in Calendar 2003 when financial woes led to a
disruption in the market and imports dropped
dramatically. What was a $3.4 million export market for
U.S. pet foods bottomed out at $914,000 in 2004.
with economic stability now in place, U.S. imports are
on the rise. Sales were up to $1.6 million in 2005, 40
percent of the total imported by the Dominican Republic.
U.S. exports in 2006 may have reached $3.9 million.
American Countries Stepped Into Breach
Despite a preference for premium U.S. brands, many pet
owners have begun buying low-cost imports from Central
America, mainly from Costa Rica. Other competing
countries include Argentina, Brazil, France, and Mexico.
market conditions support these imports. Pet foods from
Central America have a zero-percent tariff, set by a
free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic. When
the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade
Agreement (CAFTA-DR) comes into force this year, the
tariff on U.S. pet food imports will still be 20
percent, with a phase-out scheduled over 10 years.
high tariffs, other barriers include restrictions on
beef ruminant products—only poultry products can be
imported—and strict documentation requirements. Since
Central American countries do not export cat food, sales
of these U.S. products have not been affected.
Republic Finances On Track
The economic situation in the Dominican Republic is now
good, following the launch of an economic adjustment and
stabilization program in 2004 aimed at restoring
macroeconomic stability, particularly for the public
finance and banking sectors. The government worked with
the International Monetary Fund to enforce certain
standards, which have worked well.
domestic product is expected to have grown 8.5 percent
in 2006, and to maintain a 4.5-percent rate in 2007 and
2008. Inflation, after peaking at 43 percent in 2003, is
back in the single digits.
Entry Through Importers
The best way to enter the Dominican market is through
one of the few local pet food importers. They are
familiar with the market, business practices and related
laws, and have sales contacts. Getting legal advice
before making a formal commitment is important.
importers sell to retailers and also to end consumers.
While supermarkets are the major distribution channel
for low-price brands, veterinarians and specialty pet
food stores distribute premium brands. Some larger
supermarkets also import low-price brands directly.
A. Mendez is an
agricultural marketing specialist with the FAS Office of
Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Santo
Domingo, the Dominican Republic. E-mail: