From the Field: In-Market Representative Report – October 2020

October 2020 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 better your international exporting efforts. 


As part of the Canadian government’s mandate to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030, it has proposed a ban on single-use plastic by the end of 2021. This includes plastic bags, straws, cutlery, stir sticks, six-pack rings, and food packaging made from plastics that are difficult to recycle. This does not include garbage bags, milk bags, snack food wrappers, beverage containers and lids at this time.



The Minister of Tourism, David Collado, for the Dominican Republic stated that the Dominican Tourism business is on the verge of total collapse, which is why they decided to implement the Internal Tourism Incentive Plan to encourage tourism of people who already live in the country. The tourism authorities reached out to the main hotel chains in the DR to come up with strategic fees with discounts between 20-50% (incl tax.) aimed to help Dominican families to have access to short vacations to all-inclusive hotels.



GlobalData’s most recent consumer survey found that 47% of Chinese consumers consider themselves ‘extremely concerned’ about their health, whilst a further 52% said that they were ‘quite’ or ‘slightly concerned’ – in fact, only 2% of respondents said that they were ‘not concerned’ about their health at all.

Seafood Update

Authorities in the Chinese capital of Beijing have ordered importers to avoid frozen food from countries suffering severe coronavirus outbreaks after several incidents of imported seafood testing positive for the virus. The bureau urged importers to closely monitor the pandemic situation around the world and “take the initiative to avoid importing cold chain foods from areas severely hit by the pandemic.” Companies are also instructed to improve their warnings and reporting mechanisms, and to inform authorities quickly if products test positive.


In France, the economic consequences of COVID-19 have been terrible for certain sectors, especially restaurants. It is reported that about 15% of establishments could close their doors by the end of 2020 because of the epidemic. The average drop in turnover recorded by restaurants is 87%. Industry representatives estimate that 200,000 jobs could be lost by the end of 2020.

Seafood update

According to the Daily Mail online, the UK has offered a 3 year transition period from 2021 to 2024 that would give European Union fishing trawlers time to adapt to the new fishing regulations in UK waters. During these three years, the catches would be gradually reduced in order to avoid an abrupt stop. However, Downing Street wants to give preference to British fishing vessels in British waters from next year. The new proposals could get the stalled Brexit negotiations moving, especially since the issue of fisheries is one of the biggest obstacles to a trade deal between the EU and the UK.


Hong Kong’s experiment with food trucks is dying. Four years after they burst on the scene, with a competition to select vendors on wheels, they are now rolling off into the sunset. From 15 trucks in 2016, only three are still in operation. With last year’s social unrest, which brought tourist numbers crashing down, and this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions to keep the virus at bay, which meant even local customers stayed away, the market for food trucks has almost disappeared completely.

Seafood Update

Hong Kong residents have brushed aside reports that traces of the coronavirus were found on chopping boards used for salmon at a Beijing market, with long lunchtime queues at sushi restaurants and shoppers still buying the popular fish. The city’s Centre for Food Safety confirmed that 16 samples of imported salmon from countries including Norway, Chile, Ireland, Iceland, and Denmark all tested negative for the coronavirus. A spokesman for the Centre said there was no evidence to show humans could be infected by the coronavirus through food such as aquatic products, based on current scientific research.


During the pandemic, businesses across the food service sector have been forced to close or greatly reduce operations. The impact of social distancing measures and changes in consumer behavior are expected to linger for the remainder of 2020 and possibly beyond. FAS Jakarta expects to see significant declines in exports of dairy (particularly cheeses used in food service), beef (especially prime cuts served al high-end restaurants and hotels), frozen potatoes, and wine.

Feed Ingredients Update

Demand for amino acids in Indonesia has started to pick up, according to a feed additive supplier. However, the prices of lysine and methionine are relatively stable at a low level – around USO l.3/kg and USO 2.0-2.2/kg respectively as of September 7. The price drop of the two amino acids started in April, then continued to decline through July. The total feed consumption is predicted to only reach 18 mt this year due to the pandemic.


The Japan Foodservice Association reported that sales for the restaurant industry increased 3.4% in August versus the same period last year as new cases of COVID-19 declined.  Sales of the Fast Food sector surged 5.1% versus same period prior year while Family restaurant sales increased 1.9%. This was the first month of increases versus prior year following five months of double-digit declines.


Across Southeast Asia, recovery from the COVID-19 situation has been uneven. Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia have largely reopened internally for business while the Philippines and the capital region of Malaysia (Klang area) are undergoing another round of limited quarantine. There is feedback from the trade that foodservice is back at about 70%, and in retail, demand for processed food is up.

Meanwhile, partly due to the hardship from the pandemic, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are experiencing political and civil unrest.


The latest trend among South Korean shoppers is buying smaller portions more often on a regular basis.  This is due to many people living alone who tend to buy groceries that require less cooking and that come in smaller portions.

Consumers in their 20s and 30s have become the biggest purchasers of food products in South Korea. This comes as the number of one-person households has greatly increased in the nation over the last ten years and with an aging population. Consumption of healthier produce such as blueberries, nuts and porridges has spiked by more than 30% over the last 10 years, with interest higher among the older generations.


Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration announced on Oct. 5 that starting Jan. 1, 2021, freshly made drinks must clearly label the amount of sugar and calories they contain. FDA official said that the amendment applies to chain beverage shops, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants. FDA official added that businesses that fail to do so will be fined between NT$30,000 (US$1,000) and NT$3 million. False labeling is punishable by a fine of between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million.


The sharp rise in the UK’s COVID-19 cases has led its Government to reduce the number of relatives permitted to gather to six. The ruling is expected to remain in force at Christmas which is the UK’s most important celebratory occasion when families get together to share a traditional festive lunch, the favorite being roast turkey. Brits generally consume nine million turkeys at Christmas, ranging in size from 3kg to 20kg, with the most popular being 6kg. Downsizing diners means that consumers will opt for a smaller bird. Turkey farmers who are unable to grow small turkeys so close to Christmas (turkeys are fattened over the summer) are considering their options. Some birds may be slaughtered early, to reduce size but they will have to be frozen. Customers who want fresh, free-range turkeys for their families present a challenge to the suppliers. It is possible that some consumers will seek an alterative such as duck or goose, others could be faced with cold cuts for days.