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

September 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.



The last 12 to 18 months has been a particularly challenging environment for many importers, distributors and retailers in the region. Container shortages and shipping delays continue to be a major issue with delays and increased costs impacting price margins significantly. Many retailers are reporting increased profits due to consumers eating and preparing more meals at home as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, this has also resulted in a reduction in dining out which is impacting food service, wholesale distributors, and the hospitality industry in general.



There have recently been significant increases in food sales in both the retail and foodservice sectors in Canada. July 2021 saw a 3.1% increase from the previous year in foodservice sales. Groceries are up 1.7% overall, with meat products up 3.1% and dairy products up 3.5%. There is concern that Canadians will see further price increases due to a variety of issues of upwards of 5%. Alberta’s recent drought and heat have wreaked havoc in grain production and has affected livestock and beekeepers.

Canada has now re-opened the Canadian border to U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated as of August 9th.  They will also allow fully vaccinated international travelers from other countries starting in mid-September. Anyone travelling to Canada must have a negative PCR test result that was performed up to 72 hours before departure. Upon arrival in Canada, they must take an antigen test and if negative, they will not have to isolate.



African Swine Fever is back in the Dominican Republic after 40 years. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that African Swine Fever (ASF) has been found in samples from pigs in the Dominican Republic, the agency said on Wednesday July 28th.   

On August 14th, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula in Haiti. It brought a huge amount of destruction to the area with many recorded deaths and injuries.



Ongoing issues with port congestion continue in China, now worsening with the partial closure of the world’s third busiest container port of Ningbo.  It is affecting other major Chinese ports as well, as ships divert away from Ningbo because they are uncertain how long COVID-19 virus control measures will last in the city. In Shanghai and in Hong Kong port congestion is also a problem once again due to the reopening of the Yantian port in Shenzhen, which shut down back in May due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Some good news is that the value-added industrial output of food manufacturers rose 9.1% year over year from January to July in 2021.  Agricultural byproduct processors also increased by 10% according to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

In the first seven months of 2021 retail sales of the food industry witnessed robust growth, with grain, oil, and food sales up a total of 10.6% to 929.07 billion yuan (about 143.24 billion U.S. dollars). Retail sales in the beverage sector also surged 27.9% to 158.71 billion yuan.



Seafood Update

German households bought 14.1% more fish in 2020. Per capita consumption of fish and seafood remained at a high level of 14.1 kg, despite the protracted closures of restaurants and mass catering due to COVID-19 restrictions. This information was announced by the Fish Information Center (FIZ) at its press conference in Hamburg.

Consumers in Germany spent 4.7 billion euros on their grocery purchases last year, an increase of 16.4 percent. In total, households bought 457,630 metric tons of fish and seafood. This is an increase of 14.1% compared to the previous year.

The European Union (E.U.) fishing industry has called for sanctions against Norway and the Faroe Islands due to claims of “massive overfishing of the northeast Atlantic mackerel stock”.  The EU fishing industry is calling on the European Union to take immediate action.



Hong Kong recently opened its first-ever plant-based culinary arts academy.  It was opened by Green Monday in collaboration with real estate company Great Eagle Group. The new school will have a series of educational courses about plant-based ingredients and be tailored to chefs, hospitality professionals, and caterers.



The COVID-19 vaccination rate in Japan for fully vaccinated people reached 45% of the total population as of August 31st. Despite a slow start to administering doses, Japan hopes to be able to vaccinate everyone who wants a shot by the end of October 2021.

Household spending declined 5.1% in June 2021 versus the same period last year as consumers pulled back purchases.



Seafood Update

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) 70% of seafood businesses have closed recently due to the “3 on-site” program. The newly implemented “3 on-site” model has employees eating, sleeping, and working on the premises without leaving.  The aim is to keep production going while trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For many seafood factories it is difficult to implement “3 on-site”, so some of them have stopped production altogether, and the rest of production facilities are still having significant difficulties.