From the Field: In-Market Representative Reports – May 2020

Get an update directly from our global network of In-Market Representatives about what's going on in markets around the globe.

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 better your international exporting efforts.


Market Segment: Retail

At the beginning of April, Canadians were stockpiling on canned goods, pasta, toilet paper and baking ingredients such as flour, yeast and icing sugar. Shelves were bare of cleaning ingredients. Dairy, eggs and bread were being limited to one or two per purchase to try and keep product on the shelf.

At the end of April, however, consumers have settled down to more normal purchasing habits and shelves are now being replenished at a normal rate. Grocery retailers have reduced shopping hours and installed plexiglass protection for cashiers. They are allowing only 50 shoppers in at a time.

Market Segment: Food Service

Sales have dropped 70% with the closure of restaurants. Take-out is still allowed. Many sit-down restaurants who previously did not offer take-out have adapted to doing so with businesses such as Uber Eats conducting deliveries or pick up at the door. A number of these restaurants have also opted to set up mini grocery stores in their restaurant, selling wine, condiments, produce, meat and meal kits.

Gordon Foodservice and SYSCO, Canada’s two largest distributors have responded to the decrease in sales by now distributing to grocery retail. They have also introduced shopping for consumers. Individuals can now place an order for restaurant quality products for pick-up the next day.


The number of COVID-19 infections has increased to over 10,000.  Hotel, travel related, foodservice operations remain severely depressed.  The exception are the delivery systems such as Pizza chains, and takeout, and retail sales for at home food consumption.  It was reported in the past week that arrivals by foreign visitors last month were down 98% versus the same period a year ago.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister’s Cabinet approved this past week a $1.1 trillion economic package to support the economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is expected to receive a 545 billion yen ($5 billion) supplementary budget to support the food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.


Market Segment: Feed Ingredients

Indonesia does not produce wheat domestically and is fully reliant on wheat imports to fulfill demand for wheat flour-based food and as an ingredient for poultry and livestock feed. Wheat imports for 2019/20 are estimated to decrease to 10.8 million tons to reflect lower wheat flour for food consumption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the previous estimate of 11.0 million tons. A rebound in consumption in 2020/21 is forecast to modestly increase to imports to 10.95 million tons. In line with the estimated decline of domestic corn production, wheat for feed consumption is estimated to increase to 2.0 million tons in 2019/20. Wheat for feed consumption is forecast to remain stable at 2.0 million tons in 2020/21.


Market Segment: Retail

Grocery sales have increased 23.6% in January and February while non-food purchases have decreased 4.9%. Schools are expecting to go back in May.

Our South Korea IMR sent out a survey to buyers and distributors and reported the following:

  • Overall 30.2% said business increased or stayed the same as last year
  • Retail – 40% increased or same
  • Food Service – 66% said business decreased by over 50%
  • Importer/distributors – 28% sales increased or stayed the same

Check out our upcoming live Webinar with our IMR’s in South Korea happening on Wednesday May 28th below.

South Korea Update: The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Consumption


Market Segment
: Seafood

Retail distributors (some 10,000 small fish markets and 25,000 fishmongers) have continued operating during the lockdown despite losses and the difficulties in supplying and taking over home deliveries, which have multiplied to reach 80% of their sales. As of yet, the species most demanded by Spanish consumers are hake, sea bass and bream, salmon, squid, anchovies, cuttlefish, cod and sole. Prices of fresh fish, and especially frozen fish, in general terms are still very stable in the wholesale markets.