From the Field: In-Market Representative Reports – December 2022

December 2022 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 19 uniquely experienced In-Market Representatives around the globe. These local marketing experts in the food industry provide Food Export with on-the-ground assistance to implement our various programs and services.   

In addition, through regular trade servicing, these local representatives report on local issues, trends, and opportunities for international buyers to connect with suppliers of U.S. agricultural and food products. Every month we share with you some of the top market insight from the trade servicing reports we receive in order to improve your international export efforts.   



Beverage trends are changing in Brazil. According to reports from Euromonitor, the consumption of iced tea in Brazil has been gaining popularity in the past few years, increasing by 25% from 2013 to 2020. As for 2023, consumption of iced tea is expected to increase by 43% from 2022.  


On November 18, Colombia’s Congress approved a tax reform bill that is estimated to generate $4 billion. The bill includes taxes on ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks and aims to address obesity rates and health issues related to nutrition. Ultra-processed foods facing taxes are those with high added sugars, salt, and saturated fats (such as sausages, cereals, jellies and jams, purees, sauces, condiments and seasoning). These will face a 10% tax in September 2023, 15% in 2024, and 20% in 2025. On the other hand, the tax on sugary drinks will come into effect in July 2023 and will cover sodas, malt-based beverages, tea or coffee-type beverages, fruit juices and nectars, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavored waters, and powder mixes. The tax rate will be dependent on the amount of sugar contained in the drinks and may increase year to year. According to civil society groups, these regulations aim to address the influence of corporations on nutrition practices. 


France and Germany are known as the strongest markets for organic food products in Europe, both in consumption and production. But for the first time in a decade, the market share for the organic foods category in retail sales is declining. The French Organic Farming Association recently published its annual report, revealing that demand has declined by 5% compared to the previous year. Representatives of the industry have identified price sensitivity as the main challenge. While in past years aspects such as sustainability and eco-friendliness were the focus of the marketing campaigns of most domestic retail chains, these have recently lost importance. Price point is the dominant topic now. Even the leading retailers are using discounted prices as a strategy to promote their private label goods following the shifting buying patterns of customers. This shows how the current economic situation is affecting even established product categories. 


Food and beverage firms in South Korea are investing in the development of “smart factories.” According to The Korea Times, Dongsuh Foods has reported higher productivity and efficient manufacturing processes after investing $41 million in the construction of two smart factories that began operations in 2020. The firm also launched a “special digitalization task force” to review the viability of building and operating a smart factory. The task force also introduced a new system that offers real-time monitoring of production volume, manufacturing processes, quality control, and projects the supply and demand for key ingredients. While these smart factories have been implemented primarily in instant coffee and confectionery manufacturing, they are paving the way for other industries.   

In other news, South Korea is also introducing new labeling on products. This is the result of the extension of the shelf life for many food products. Until now, the expiration dates on products were seller-centered, meaning that they referred to the time period in which a seller must get their products off the shelves. But as of 2023, expiration dates will be consumer-centered, telling buyers up to what point a product can be safely consumed (assuming it has been stored as recommended). It is the first time in 38 years that the food expiration labeling system is set to be changed. By replacing “sell-by” dates with “use-by” dates, the shelf life for food products will extend by 20% to 50%. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety explains that the new regulation is one of the government’s efforts to reduce food waste. 


To maximize Taiwan’s exporting efforts, the Ministry of Economic Affairs organized the 2022 Taiwan Gourmet Online Business Matching to promote the development of the nation’s food and beverage industry. The event featured 16 international companies from eight countries and 24 renowned Taiwanese food and beverage enterprises. The organizations participated in one-on-one meetings to engage with potential business partners. According to the Department of Commerce, the event attracted a variety of Taiwanese gourmet manufacturers, and they already see a lot of promise for Taiwanese products in the international market. Among the partnerships established at the event is a joint venture between the Chef Teng restaurant brand with the US-based Taiwan Go, which is to offer Taiwan-style noodles on the online platform next year. 


Vertical farming and new aquaculture methods are evolving both agriculture and aquaculture in the region. Thanks to vertical farming methodology and light-assisted hydroponics systems, farmers in the UAE are growing both mass-consumed food crops and rare products. Gulf News reports that the Sharjah-based agricultural technology company, Veggitech, has harvested the world’s most expensive spice, saffron, also known as red gold. The company’s farm also boasts a fig plantation and grows produce such as tomatoes, chilies, and leaf vegetables. In addition to Veggitech, at least 75 farms in Abu Dhabi are shifting towards organic agriculture and are already growing tomatoes, cabbages, and cucumbers.  

Aquaculture is also flourishing as seafood farmers in the UAE have adopted new aquaculture methods to grow and breed Atlantic salmon, oysters, sea bass, and sea breams for domestic consumption. Fish Farm in Dubai is currently producing 10,000-15,000 kg of salmon every month. This is an innovative time for agriculture and aquaculture in UAE. 


UK supermarkets Tesco, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer have introduced egg rationing due to shortages and rising prices. The Grocer (UK’s leading retail trade journal) reports that there have been 37 price increases applied to eggs by the supermarkets since November 12. The largest single rise recorded was a 20.1% increase on a 15-eggs pack. This upswing has caused tensions between eggs producers and retailers. While retailers and the media have claimed that the Avian Bird Flu is responsible for shortages and price hikes, egg producers explain that the spike in feed, energy, and fuel prices is also to blame.