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Business trends

As Myanmar eats more meat, Sumitomo to sell drugs for livestock

Trader aims for $1 billion in sales of pharmaceuticals for animals

Sumitomo bought an equity stake in China's Shandong Sinder Technology in 2016, expecting a lucrative global drug market for livestock and pets.

TOKYO -- Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. is set to start selling drugs for animals in Myanmar later in March as part of an effort to enlarge its presence in what it expects to be a lucrative global market for drugs for livestock and pets.

The company will start selling livestock drugs made by Shandong Sinder Technology through a local sales agent. Sumitomo bought an equity stake in the Shandong Province-based drugmaker in  2016.

Sumitomo will sell about 10 Shandong Sinder products in the Southeast Asian country, including antibiotics for chickens. It will consider eventually selling vaccines for diseases such as bird flu as well.

Among Japan's major trading houses, Sumitomo is especially interested in getting into the animal drug business, aiming for eventual annual sales of around 100 billion yen ($937 million). 

The global market for animal drugs has grown to about 3 trillion yen, as the livestock industry has expanded along with the human population. Demand for meat such as chicken, pork and beef is rising in the emerging markets of Asia that are undergoing rapid economic growth.

Sumitomo expects the global animal drug market to grow by about 3-4% annually, as more people keep pets as living standards rise.

The company plans to expand its sales channels for Shandong Sinder products to other regions such as Africa as well. It has signed a contract with a local sales agent in Kenya to sell livestock drugs, and is considering selling drugs in Nigeria.

Following its investment in Shandong Sinder, Sumitomo also bought a stake in Piedmont Animal Health, a startup developing drugs for pets, based in the U.S. state of North Carolina. 

Sumitomo had been selling Piedmont Animal Health's products to Japanese pharmaceutical companies and others prior to the capital alliance. The U.S. company's flagship products are antibiotics and animal sedatives. 

Sumitomo has also acquired licenses to sell Piedmont Animal Health's products in the rest of Asia, and in Latin America.

Sumitomo says it will get involved in procuring raw materials for medical products made by Shandong Sinder Technology and Piedmont Animal Health, and plans to expand into related businesses such as pet toys and food. 

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