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

October 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.



COVID-19 Update

A number of hotels in the Caribbean have recently included complete vaccination against COVID-19 as a mandatory requirement to guests before entering the premises.

Those who are entering the hotels must present a proof of vaccination, which can either be a written Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) vaccination card for U.S. citizens, a National Health Service (NHS) vaccination report, pass, or certificate for those coming from the UK, an official vaccination receipt (for Canada), or similar official medically and governmentally recognized document.



China’s pet care spending is set for a dramatic increase according to a recent 104 page report by the U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs. The report forecasts a 19% compound annual growth in pet food spending between now and 2030.

The report predicts that China’s pet market will change dramatically over the next decade as it expands to meet the demands of fast-growing single and elderly populations.

More than 1/3 of China’s dog and cat owners are single, according to Goldman. Amid immense economic pressure, Chinese millennials have shattered centuries-old traditional, cultural and family taboos. Increasing numbers of younger Chinese are veering away from marrying and having children.

The report notes that despite high numbers of pets, the pet care industry in China is at an early stage. In 2020, 17.6% and 14.5% of Chinese households owned, respectively, a dog or a cat. That compares with 40% and 35% in the US.



The German election took place at the end of September to decide on the successor of Angela Merkel after 16 years in office. Climate change and the protection of the environment were key topics during election campaigns and will be dominant matters in German politics in years to come. This is only more proof of the increasing importance of the subjects and how they will impact food culture and buying patterns. It is predicted that national decisions for Germany will be a lot more environmentally-focused affecting domestic trade and production but also imports and market position of foreign goods.

Health and healthy-eating in particular have become another concern on a European level. Under the umbrella of the “HealthyLifestyle4All” campaign recently announced in Brussels, more than USD $800 million will be invested in education and information programs in the next five years to enhance the health within the EU.

One of the main goals of this campaign is to make healthy nutrition available and affordable for anyone. Among others, a public food ingredients database and a stricter nutrition labelling are core aspects to enable consumers across the EU to gain knowledge and a better understanding of the products they consume. For foreign manufacturers this raises the bar to produce healthy products, reducing components like salt, sugar or fat. In addition, this could call for additional labelling requirements to better highlight nutritional value in the future.


Hong Kong’s ‘healthy’ food labelling rule may be misleading shoppers.  The “Salt/Sugar” Label Requirements for Prepackaged Food Products, jointly introduced in October 2017 by the Food and Health Bureau, aims to help consumers find low-salt, low-sugar products more easily and make informed choices about their health.

But it has a loophole: products tagged as low in one potentially unhealthy ingredient may be high in another one. The government recently removed over 30% of the products that were misleading from its website and said that it plans to update the specifications to avoid misunderstandings in the future.



COVID-19 Update

Effective September 30, 2021, the emergency measures placed in 19 prefectures throughout Japan was lifted. However, restaurants are still being asked to reduce hours of operation and limit serving of alcohol after 9 pm. In addition, caps on large scale events will remain in place but be less restrictive than in the past, i.e., caps of attendance of 50% capacity or 10,000 people, whichever is lower.

Restrictions will continue in place on international arrivals to Japan. However, the quarantine period for returning residents to Japan will be reduced to 10 days from 14 days for those people providing a negative PCR test after 10 days. Entrants to Japan are still required to test negative for COVID19 within 72 hours of entering Japan and undergo a second test upon arrival in Japan.


According to a report from Bain & Company and Facebook, an estimated additional 70 million consumers have shopped online in Southeast Asia since the pandemic began. This is based on a survey of 16,000 consumers across six countries in the region. There has been rapid adoption of digital services such as e-commerce, food delivery, and online payment methods.

The region is predicted to have 350 million online consumers by the end of 2021 and 380 million, by 2026. Average online spending is also projected to grow by 60% in 2021 to $381 per digital consumer from $238 in 2020. Online retail share of overall retail grew from 5% in 2020 to 9% in Southeast Asia, outpacing the growth in Brazil, China, and India.


The food and beverage industry is paying attention to the consumer demands for more healthy, eco-friendly, and organic foods. COVID-19 caused consumers to pay more attention to health, driving up demand for healthy food options despite high prices. Many food companies are launching new organic, healthy products to meet this demand.

The online food market has grown by 50% due to COVID-19.  Before the pandemic, the online penetration rate for food was lower than for other products. This is because food needs a cold chain infrastructure due to its short inventory period. However, as demand increased and the market grew, competition among companies that provide online food has intensified and large-scale investments are also continuing. Experts say it is necessary to establish an efficient delivery infrastructure by operating both online and in-person stores at the same time.


Seafood Update

Nearly two thirds of Europeans have fish on their menu several times per month, according to the latest Euromonitor information on EU consumer habits regarding fishery and aquaculture products. The COVID-19 crisis does not seem to have significantly affected the consumption of seafood within the EU, although a slight decrease (-6%) has been observed since 2018.

The Euromonitor survey confirms that the large majority of Europeans (64%) continue to eat fish regularly, preferably at home. Frozen products are the most preferred category, slightly ahead of fresh and tinned products. When buying seafood, the product’s appearance (e.g. freshness, presentation) is the key purchase factor for 58% of European consumers. The price is also very important (54%), and it remains a barrier for the smallest consumers.


Except for some sectors that are considered as posing high COVID-19 infection risk, most public and private production and service facilities in Ho Chi Minh City are allowed to reopen on October 1st. A new directive on pandemic control after Sept. 30 in Ho Chi Minh City was rolled out recently with specific guidance on easing COVID-19 restrictions gradually. According to the directive, state organizations that need to have employees on site can resume operations and will decide the number of staff available at their offices at once in accordance with the city.