Inner Mongolia town top cat in kitty litter biz

Ningcheng makes two-thirds of products sold nationwide

By ZHENG YIRAN in Beijing and YUAN HUI in Hohhot | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-28 09:27
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A visitor checks out cat litter products during a pet supplies expo in Shanghai in May. CHINA DAILY

In the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the small town of Ningcheng produces some two-thirds of all the cat litter in China, and one-fifth of the world's total, with the business bringing improved livelihoods to locals.

The sector has developed to such a scale that a major cat litter industry conference was held in Ningcheng county last year. During the event, industry experts, academicians and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the development of the business. Ningcheng inked deals with three cat litter enterprises worth over 850 million yuan ($118 million).

Pursuant to the signings, Ningcheng plans to build up the largest bentonite cat litter production base in China — and likely the world's biggest as well — targeting annual production of 2.4 million metric tons.

Cat litter can be divided into clumping and non-clumping varieties, with the former currently most widely used as it has strong moisture absorption and good deodorization properties, as well as being easier to clean. Bentonite is the main component of clumping cat litter. It has good physical and chemical properties, and can be used as a purification and decolorization agent, binder, suspension agent and catalyst. It is also widely used in agriculture, light industry, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other applications.

Ningcheng boasts 16.4 million tons of bentonite and 2 billion tons of potential mineral resources. It is one of the high-quality bentonite raw material bases in the country. Cat litter enterprises in Ningcheng have rich experience and technological advantages in the fields of bentonite and kaolin processing, and have conducted extensive research into lightweight cat litter and aseptic technologies.

Bentonite cat litter produced in Ningcheng is sold to more than 80 countries and regions around the world. In the domestic market, products are mainly sold in first and second-tier cities, while in overseas markets, they are mainly sold to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.

With decades of development, bentonite cat litter produced in Ningcheng is highly recognized by the market. Official data showed that local annual sales have reached 1.5 million tons, while demand has been constantly rising.

Zhang Yongsheng, deputy general manager of Ningcheng County Chong'ai Pet Products Co Ltd, said: "In terms of technology, we have introduced advanced granulation machines, dust removal and other equipment. Through the introduction of advanced talent alongside research and development transformation, we have made breakthroughs in coagulation, deodorization, dust-free qualities and renewable properties of cat litter products. Meanwhile, working with the Ningcheng Cat Litter Industry Association and the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Science and Technology Beijing, we have made innovations and reforms in cat litter manufacturing technology, taking a leading role in the industry."

Zhang said that currently, the main distribution channels of the company are Alibaba International, offline exhibitions, social network platforms, independent networks and customer referrals. More than 80 percent of products are exported to over 80 countries and regions in Southeast Asia, South America and the Middle East. Meanwhile, in the domestic market, products are sold via e-commerce platforms, pet stores and shopping malls, and sales have been growing at a compound annual growth rate of around 20 percent.

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