Cakes to couture, pampered pets a growing breed

Owners' willingness to spend big on animal companions sees boom in sector

By ZHENG ZHENG in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-15 07:22
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Passersby walk down a street with pet-themed walls in Shanghai in June. CHINA DAILY

In a bakery in Shanghai, Xu Ling beams as she picks up a cake decorated with bone-shaped cheese. It's not for one of her human friends, but to celebrate the birthday of her beloved border collie, Laksa.

The cake, weighing 350 grams and costing 168 yuan ($23), is made with quality ingredients including chicken, duck and egg yolks. For Xu, it's worthwhile splurging on the treat to make her dog's birthday special.

The increased pampering of animal companions in China has given rise to a booming economy catering to pets' every need, with premium food products, accessories, healthcare services and experiences previously reserved for humans.

At the forefront is the emerging haute cuisine craze, with owners enthusiastically serving their pets multicourse meals tailored to the pets' tastes.

While pet bakeries have been popping up over the past decade to meet this burgeoning demand, large mainstream brands entering the market speaks volumes about how hot pet care has become.

Traditional bakery chains are riding this wave, with Holiland recently launching pet cakes decorated with edible prints and animal-safe cream. The cakes, which cost 168 to 218 yuan, have attracted a large number of pet owners seeking to make their furry companions' birthday a memorable occasion.

Since their introduction in February, the special cakes have been in short supply and pet owners now need to make an order one day in advance. On HolilandPet's official shop on the online shopping platform Taobao, sales records showed that more than 2,000 people bought the cakes in the last month. Most buyers are content with their purchase and are pleased the big-name brand endorses the safety of the cakes.

"When I learned such a big brand had begun making cakes for pets, I couldn't wait to let my baby have a taste," said Xu. "I've made cakes for Laksa myself, and I know how hard it is to make a well-balanced cake that suits a pet's taste. The money was well spent. My pet taught me how to love again, and I want to give him a better life."

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