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

February 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 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.


As lockdowns in major Chinese cities continue, some residents are complaining of food shortages. This is one of the explanations for the recent surge in shares of local frozen food companies.  It is expected that even after the Lunar Holiday earlier this month, which always increases the sales of the frozen food category, that the increases will continue.

It is thought that frozen foods would be a great way for the country to achieve greater food security as it would be the main affordable option for some locals.

Our local In-Market Representatives expect to see more increased demand and appetite for frozen foods in the market this year.


The retail sector across Europe was better in 2021 than when the pandemic first hit in 2020. It recorded continuous growth in value and volume, especially for branded products. It’s important to note that the processing industry was better prepared in 2021 as many companies shifted to produce consumer-ready groceries instead of their typical HRI goods.  This was due to the ongoing closures of restaurants due to lockdown restrictions. These products are still not back to pre-pandemic numbers, but they have gained solid volume. 

E-commerce and online channels in Europe are maintaining their positive increases. Many consumers have permanently returned to shopping in brick and mortar stores, which will slow down the growth rate in years to come.  But the transition to a more virtual retail landscape in Europe is only a matter of time.

It is expected that the Food Service sector will rebound in 2022 and 2023, but retail still offers the best opportunities for U.S. suppliers.


Meta (known formerly as Facebook) announced a survey of Digital Consumers in 2021 to explore consumers’ shopping attitudes and behaviors under the COVID-19 pandemic.  The survey was conducted in July 2021 and interviewed 1,000 Hong Kong respondents between the ages of 18 and 65 who had shopped online in the past three months. The survey pointed out that 40% of digital consumers will make impromptu consumption based on what they view on social media platforms.

The survey also showed that parents tend to use Facebook (67%) and WhatsApp (63%) for shopping inspiration, while young consumers tend to use Instagram (64%).


COVID-19 Update

Japan has extended its ban on entry of all non-citizens/residents until at least the end of February 2022 because of the Omicron variant.  Japan had been in the process of easing travel restrictions last November but reverted to earlier entry ban protocols due to the new variant.  For returning Japanese citizens/residents, a seven-day quarantine period is now mandated.

Japanese importers continue to report delays in shipments of up to 2 months. It is reported that shipments from the EU and China worsened recently, but the U.S. continues to be the worst. Concern about a U.S. West-Coast port strike is also growing.


South Korea’s e-commerce market jumped more than 35% to an all-time high in 2021.

The value of online food transactions last year is estimated at $58.5 billion, which is a 35.3% increase, according to the data from Statistics Korea and industry sources. 

This total covers online transactions of food, groceries, farm produce, meat and fisheries goods, as well as food delivery services. With more people working from home, the market for food delivery services shot up 48.2% from 2020 to $25.7 Billion in 2021.


Vietnam’s internet economy is expected to grow by 31% to $21 Billion in 2022 according to a report released last November by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Co.

The report said eight million new digital consumers had been added between the start of the pandemic and the first half of this year, 55% of them living in non-metropolitan areas. Digital consumption has become a way of life with 97% of new consumers still using online services and 99% who intend to continue using them in the future.

Some 30% of digital sellers believe they cannot make it through the pandemic without digital platforms.