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

November 2020 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 better your international exporting efforts. 


COVID-19 Update

Canada is in a second wave of infections of COVID-19. Ontario and Quebec continue to have the greatest number of new cases; however, Manitoba, Alberta and British Colombia are also seeing large increases in cases daily.


COVID-19 Update

Last month, authorities from more than 25 countries met with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and other multilateral organizations at the Caribbean Development Roundtable and the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee. Heads of State, ministers and other high-level authorities from more than 25 Caribbean countries, along with officials from international and multilateral organizations, stressed the importance of implementing urgent solutions to support financing for development for that subregion’s nations in the era of COVID-19 and beyond.


China has purchased 71% of its Phase One target.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a report late in October highlighting the progress made to date in implementing the agricultural provisions in the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, which is delivering historic results for American agriculture.

Since the Agreement entered into force, the United States and China have addressed a multitude of structural barriers in China that had been impeding exports of U.S. food and agricultural products. To date, China has implemented at least 50 of the 57 technical commitments under the Phase One Agreement.

In addition to these products, USDA expects 2020 sales to China to hit record or near-record levels for numerous other U.S. agricultural products including pet food, alfalfa hay, pecans, peanuts, and prepared foods.

COVID-19 Update

China’s capital has become the first city to roll out a digital platform for tracking the import routes of frozen meat and seafood. In a recent announcement Beijing authorities said companies transporting or storing imported frozen food items will be required to upload details about the products — including their place of origin and import routes — on a government-made online platform starting Nov. 11. According to the announcement, all imported frozen meat and seafood packages in Beijing will now be required to have a QR code so consumers can find out the production date and source of production, as well as virus testing documentation.


COVID-19 Update

While  buying patterns changed due to panic shopping and hoarding during the first months of the pandemic, it seems that the pandemic also has long-term effects on the way consumers shop. Instead of the popular small batch shopping trips where customers only bought what they would need for one day, now, one stop shopping is on the rise.

Shoppers reduce the number of store visits and try to make their weekly purchases in one short trip to the supermarket. In a recent survey with Nielsen, 56% of all shoppers surveyed enjoy shopping less than before, with shopping becoming a mandatory task.  With people spending less time in the supermarkets, in-store tasting, sampling trays and information counters could become obsolete.

Seafood Update

COVID has caused a change in how consumers are shopping. Consumers who previously only bought in physical stores spent, on average, 40% more when they started shopping online after the arrival of COVID.  In Spain, 25% of seafood retailers are selling online through their own website or app and they are obtaining 6% of their business volume through online channels.  In terms of prices, wholesalers have made an effort to keep prices stable. Although summer months tend to raise the prices of seafood, especially shellfish, this did not occur this year and for this reason there has been an acceptable level of consumption in restaurants.


Impossible Foods officially announced the first retail launch of its plant-based products in Asia. The products will be sold in major supermarket outlets including ParknShop in Hong Kong and all of its subsidiaries. It will retail at HK$89.90 ($11.50 USD) per 340 gram package.

Seafood Update

Hong Kong customs has recently confiscated nearly 8,000 hairy crabs and arrested one person on suspicion of smuggling at a border checkpoint.



The All Japan Supermarket Association, Japan Supermarket Association, and National Supermarket Association of Japan released the preliminary results for sales during the month of September. Total sales were 926 billion yen (up 1.0% from the same period last year).

Comparable store sales have increased for eight consecutive months since February, reflecting the impact of COVID on consumer behavior.  However, as restaurants regain customer traffic, supermarket sales growth has diminished.



In Colombia, labeling with warnings passed its first voting round at the Chamber of Representatives. After three failed attempts in the past, the bill to include octagons on the front of packaging with warnings alerting of high contents of sodium, sugar, fat or saturated fat contents, which is endorsed by global organizations like the WHO, was finally passed in the second debate at the Chamber of Representatives. This follows the trend of other South and Latin American countries that already comply with this regulation, which is aimed to reduce the consumption of junk food.

In Brazil, ANVISA (The National Health  Surveillance Agency) also approved new nutritional labelling regulation. The measure improves the transparency and comprehensibility of nutritional information on food labels and aims to help consumers to be more aware when purchasing food. The main changes were:

  • Nutritional tables must be white with black letters for easy reading
  • The front of the package must have warnings with a magnifying glass illustration when the product contains high sugar, saturated fat and sodium contents
  • The volumes and the nutritional table may not be kept in “hidden” places, except in products with a label area of less than 100cm2.
  • All requirements will become effective within two years


Food companies are rolling out products that are high in protein in response to a rise in health concerns. According to Korea Health Promotion Institute (KHPI), all age groups reported weight gain during the pandemic.  Food industry analysts predict that the market for protein-related products will expand twofold from $50 million to $60 million  in 2019 to over $100 million this year. The interest in protein products for overall health and boosting the immune system is a global trend.



COVID-19 Update

A new four-week lockdown went into effect Nov 5th for England. There are many fears this might continue past Dec 2 given the rise in COVID cases. It is anticipated that Scotland is not far behind in following England’s measures. The lockdown will require the majority of people stay home most of the time, excluding schools, universities and nurseries. Along with those, supermarkets, chemists (pharmacies) and takeaways (take out food) are able to stay open. All pubs, bars, gyms and entertainment venues have been ordered to close. Pubs and restaurants will be permitted to run a takeaway option for food but not alcohol.



COVID-19 Update

In Vietnam, there have been no new local cases of COVID in more than 60 days. During the pandemic, sales grew especially in e-commerce, fresh fruits, seafood, snacks and functional foods and dairy products, canned food & beverage products.