April 20, 2022

From the Field: In-Market Representative Reports - April 2022

Food Export - Midwest and Food Export - Northeast have developed a network of uniquely experienced 19 overseas In-Market Representatives around the globe.  These local marketing experts with food industry experience provide on-the-ground help in assisting Food Export - Midwest and Food Export - Northeast to implement our various programs and services.  

In addition, through regular trade servicing, these local representatives are aware of issues, trends and opportunities for international buyers to connect with suppliers of U.S. agricultural and food products.  Every month we will share with you some of the top market information from the trade servicing reports we receive to help you improve your international exporting efforts.

CHINA

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, China's retail sales are up 6.7% in the first two months of 2022, totaling around 1.17 trillion in U.S. dollars. That growth rate is 5% higher than in December of 2021.

Retail sales in urban areas reached 6.46 trillion yuan during the same two-month period, up 6.7% year over year, while those in rural areas increased 7.1% year over year. Catering revenue hit 771.8 billion yuan, an increase of 8.9% year over year. Also in the first two months of 2022, China's online retail sales continued to show robust expansion and reached 1.96 trillion yuan, up 10.2% year over year growth.

EUROPEAN UNION

Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues to have a strong impact on external trading and market developments in the European Union with effects for suppliers and manufacturers around the globe, including the US. Ukraine and Russia are among the world's largest producers of seeds and grains as well as seafood which are all commodities also produced by American farmers and fishermen.

Increased demand in 2022 is expected due to the loss of supply especially for the feed industry. New sanctions against Russia have been announced by the UK and it is most likely that the EU will follow setting back trade with Russia for years to come.

One of the upsides of the ongoing conflict is that it brings Western markets closer together which can contribute to an improvement of the trade relations between the EU and U.S. that are still affected by penalty tariffs and barriers resulting from the governmental dispute between 2017 and 2020.

HONG KONG

The food delivery service Deliveroo recently conducted multiple consumer surveys simultaneously in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and France. The surveys in Hong Kong revealed that 60% of Hong Kong residents regard food delivery services as a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 77% of people agree that food plays and important role in their mental health.

Here are some of the other interesting statistics from the Hong Kong survey:

  • 55% indicated that in the past year, the ordering index of both self-pickup and delivery has increased a significant extent
  • 60% regarded delivery services as a necessity, mainly because they wanted to stay indoors to avoid being infected
  • 53% said they choose delivery service because of a particular craving for certain foods

In the same survey conducted by Deliveroo, residents were asked about their at home cooking habits and responded with:

  • 51% of Hong Kong people surveyed agree or strongly agree that cooking is their hobby
  • 52% of them have more free time than before as their schedules have become more flexible
  • 43% said they have a greater chance to cook for themselves

It is clear that along with take-out, at home cooking has also become significantly more popular in Hong Kong since the pandemic began signaling a major shift in the culture and shopping habits of the market.

SOUTH KOREA

The Korea Food Industry Association (KFIA) recently announced that it will undertake a new project of implementing a ‘Use By’ Date Labeling System. This project will kick off this year and has an initial budget of US$2.5 million.

It will start with processed food products that have a high rate of consumption.  The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety will establish the ‘use-by-date’ definition and the change of the term from shelf life to use-by-date.  By applying the ‘use-by’ date rather than the expiration date, some food products can be consumed even after the expiration date has passed.

UNITED KINGDOM

According to Seafish (a UK public body supporting the seafood industry) Russia accounts for 40% of fish exports globally, with the majority of processing undertaken in China. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK government imposed 35% tariffs on white fish imported from Russia. The UK is heavily reliant on imported white fish, with as much as 90% of the cod consumed in Britain sourced overseas, according to the Marine Conservation Society. The tariffs are causing concern that they will lead to shortages and price increases.

Seafish estimates that tariffs could affect up to 30% of UK fish imports. The estimated worth of the tariffs is almost £1bn. They encompass a variety of food products and materials used in food and drinks including beverages, cereals, spirits, vinegar, oilseeds, white fish, and fertilizers.