From the Field: In-Market Representative Report – August 2021

August 2021 monthly update from our global network of In-Market Representatives about what's going on in markets around the world.

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.


New reports from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) shows that the U.S. exported 193,952 metric tons of dairy products to China between January and May in 2021.  That is a 75% increase from the same time period in 2020.

Given the current tariffs still in place, the U.S. is getting a big share of the dairy market in China. This is especially impressive considering the fact that most of China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy are still in place (a response to the Section 301 tariffs levied on China in 2019 during the previous administration).

Seafood Update

Seafood prices are soaring across China. Wholesale prices for freshwater seafood surged 20% year-on-year in the first half of 2021 according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The climb in prices is 13.1% higher than the rise seen in the first half of 2020 and has added 0.12 to China’s overall consumer price index (CPI). The overall seafood price index was up 17.2% in the first six months, suggesting tightened supply.


The past 18 months have fueled food delivery markets in Europe, especially the ‘quick commerce sector’. Companies like Gorillas, Getir, Flink or Bring are competing for market share and drive aggressive expansion strategies in European and other international markets. The sector recorded investments of more than USD 3 billion in the past year.

With loosening pandemic control measures in most European countries, the main growth driver for e-commerce is breaking away as shoppers are returning to brick & mortar stores and ordering less online. Experts still forecast a bright future for leading quick commerce companies. 

For U.S. exporters, these new delivery retailers can develop into important sales channels. In upcoming years, exporters should have in mind to discuss quick commerce possibilities with their importers and distributors as it is a market segment offering high value and volume opportunities.

So far, non-European online traders of smaller consumer goods profited from duty and tax-free allowances for all items below € 22 while companies based in the EU had to include regular value added tax (VAT) on all sales. Now, the European Commission decided to adjust regulations to counter this competitive advantage. For all food items, a 7% additional tax applies when being sold into the Union. That means, American traders offering their products need to adjust their consumer-prices accordingly.   


The vegan food movement continues to increase in Hong Kong, with online vegan store La Taula recently launching a new collection of bespoke vegan cheeses. Gluten and dairy-free, their artisanal cheese range is derived from natural, unprocessed ingredients.

The Hong Kong region has recently been named as one of the world’s top 10 vegan-friendly destinations by PETA ASIA.


According to the Indonesian Cold Chain Association, frozen food demand in Indonesia went up 19% during the pandemic. Seafood contributed 45% to frozen food consumption, followed by chicken (22%), and meat (8%). The association anticipates that the frozen food business will grow by 25-30% this year.

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani recently asserted that the government would not impose a value added tax (VAT) for staple food in traditional markets. She was responding to questions posed by traders who were concerned about news of the staple food tax which would raise the selling price. She said the VAT would only apply to premium products like premium beef such as Kobe and Wagyu, which costs 10-15 times the price of regular beef. These products should be taxed differently from staple foods.


Tokyo is in a state of emergency, declared on July 11th and currently extended until at least September 12th.

The number of new COVID cases in Tokyo and nationwide hit record highs in July and the numbers have only continued to increase throughout the month of August. The rate of vaccinations has been steadily increasing but it will take several more months before the country will reach ‘herd immunity’ levels.

Currently no visitors are allowed into Japan with the exception of dignitaries and athletes/officials connected with the Olympics and Paralympics

Due to the state of emergency currently in place restaurants are requested to close by 8pm and to refrain from serving alcoholic beverages. The Japan Foodservice Association reported that nationwide restaurant sales increased 0.1% in June versus the same month last year but are still 22.6% below levels of two years ago. Supermarket sales declined 1.1% in June versus the same period last year, while convenience store sales were up 0.8% in June versus 2020.


Korean consumers are showing increased interest in meat alternatives as they recognize meat alternatives as healthier and environment-friendly choices. Accordingly, many Korean food companies are making effort to offer meat alternatives.

Fresigy, the leading meal kit processor, recently established a partnership with Australian meat alternative processor food and plans to launch new meal kits containing meat alternatives this year. Shinsegae Food, a leading food service processor, has increased production of its flagship meat alternative product, ‘No-Chicken Nuggets’, this year due to increased demand. Lotteria, Pulmoonwon, and Nongshim are also currently expanding their meat alternative businesses.


The U.K. Government officially lifted the COVID-19 related lockdown on July 19th.

The first U.K. store from the brand Mere, a Russian discounter, opened on August 14 in Northwestern England. It promises no shelves, no service, no convenience, just low prices. Mere has publicly said that it will undercut Aldi and Lidl (the UK’S established discount stores) prices by 30%. Suppliers will be tasked with delivering directly to Mere stores. The pallets upon which products arrive will double as the display stand for the consumer to shop from.