From the Field: In-Market Representative Reports – January 2023

January 2023 monthly update from our global network of In-Market Representatives about what's going on in markets around the world.

From the Field: In-Market Representative Reports – January 2023   

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.  

On December 19th, 2022, the Brazilian government approved the extension of the zero import tax for products on the “Covid List.” The zero import tax policy will now remain in effect until March 31, 2023 and will apply to the products considered essential in the fight and recovery against Covid-19. The list comprises more than 600 products, including medicines, food items, and supplies. Among the food products on the list are beef, chicken, coffee, wheat, soy oil, crackers and biscuits, pasta, and sugar. The decision was made on a temporary and exceptional basis because of import shortages and the global rise in food prices. The extension period will also provide an opportunity to assess the impact of the measures and decide on the feasibility of maintaining them. 

Canada’s first phase of their plastics ban came into effect on December 20, 2022. The regulations prohibit the manufacture, import, and sale of single-use plastics. These include plastic cutlery (knives, forks, spoons, sporks, chopsticks); straws (both straight and bendable straws); plastic check-out bags; ring carriers designed to surround beverage containers; beverage stir sticks; and foodervice ware (such as clamshell containers, lidded containers, boxes, cups, plates, bowls made from, or containing, problematic plastics that are hard to recycle (e.g., polystyrene foam, polyvinyl chloride, carbon black, or oxo-degradable plastic, etc.). These measures strive to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on nature and wildlife and will place Canada among the leaders in the cause. 

According to the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), EU Fisheries Ministries have recently agreed on the total number of catches allowed for 2023 in the North Sea, the Northeast Atlantic, and other waters. However, for Germany, the catch quotas of important consumer fish species in the North Sea could be increased significantly based on scientific recommendations for cod (+60%), haddock (+25%), and saithe (+17%). But they will have to settle with a reduction in herring (- 9 %), mackerel (- 5 %), and plaice (- 2 %). 

But the handling of the European eel, which is in critical condition, is more controversial. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) had made a scientific recommendation to end eel fishery altogether. “This would not only cost many fishing companies their existence, but it would also effectively invalidate the existing EU eel regulation,” warned the German Fisheries Association (DFV). Consequently, the EU Commission has proposed a “closed season” for eel fishing. There will be three months of closed season from October to December for the Baltic Sea and from September to November for the North Sea. The remaining three months are to be determined by the member states, taking into account eel migration patterns. Thanks to the arrangements made, eel stocking for reintroduction will still be possible. Fishing companies will also be able to continue eel fishing to a certain extent. Recreational fishing for eel, on the other hand, will be completely banned in the maritime area. 

New Zealand is facing shortages in several industries. The ongoing closure of the leading factory producing carbon dioxide is threatening the supply of beer in New Zealand. Carbon dioxide, which adds the bubbles in brews and blocks the oxidization that makes beer taste stale, is a vital ingredient in beer production and scarcity of the gas could cause production cuts, price hikes, and brewery closures. The egg industry, on the other hand, is also experiencing challenges. There is a decline in egg production as new animal welfare laws are coming into effect and farmers continue to transition and adapt to free range operations. 

In other news, buyers across the region are reporting some relief from shipping and container costs. Importers in New Zealand explain that shipping costs from China are near pre-pandemic rates.  Freight costs from the east coast of the U.S., although still higher than pre-pandemic levels, have also reduced considerably. 

Spain is the third largest market for live lobster from North America (following Italy and France). However, there’s been a drop in the demand for live lobster in the last five years, preceding the pandemic. This may be an opportune moment for other lobster-derived products to gain a foothold in the market by promoting lesser-known alternatives to lobster products that can be established in distribution channels other than restaurants, such as supermarkets.

As if the British winter wasn’t cold enough, central London has recently opened more ice cream parlors than anywhere else in the UK. There are 32 outlets within half a mile of Covent Garden alone as younger consumers swap the pub for the lure of a brain freeze. The ice cream trend has seen a growth of 43% in UK town centers in the last five years. The demand for cake has also been increasing as of late. Cake and other sweet confections have become popular in restaurants and delivery services, resulting in a 16% increase. With a continuing trend towards no or low alcohol consumption (25% of 16–24-year-olds are teetotal), ice cream parlors have become an alternative for those looking to socialize in alcohol-free venues.