The National Statistics Institute of Mexico (INEGI) undertook a representative survey in 2021 to measure some key variables, such as the reported number of pets in the country. The last time INEGI performed such a survey was in 2016, and the results were limited. The latest survey revealed the absolute number of pets.
According to INEGI, there were 79.977 million pets in the country in 2021. Of that, 43.756 million were dogs, 16.263 million were cats and 19.957 million were other pet species. 
By comparison, the human population of Mexico reached 126.014 million habitants in early 2021. Thus, the pet population is 63% of the human population.
With such a large dog population, why is the current dog food market size in Mexico just above 1 million metric tons per year? Given the nearly 44 million dogs in the country, the market has a potential of more than 3 million metric tons of dog food annually (assuming all of them are fed commercial food). Yet, the actual market size is less than three times that potential. 
The sizeable number of homeless dogs answers this question. A large portion of dogs reported as pets actually live on the streets.
The same situation happens with cats. INEGI estimated there are about 16 million cats in the country. However, cats living in a house are likely a smaller portion of that population.
Although the new pet population information is relevant, there are still essential data that are unknown. For example, what is the exact number of homeless dogs and cats, and the actual penetration rate of pet food (the percentage of dogs and cats eating commercial pet food)?
Knowing the number of pets living in homes will help the industry build accurate demand forecasts to invest in production capacity. The next step is still the need to understand the penetration rate of pet food. This metric would reveal how close the current consumption rate is to its real potential rate.
Therefore, there is room for improvement in knowledge of pet population dynamics in Mexico.
Iván Franco is the founder of Triplethree International and has collaborated on hundreds of research projects for several consumer goods industries. He was granted the Global Consultant of the Year award by Euromonitor International and authored the book 17 Market Strategies for Growth (in Spanish).
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