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

November 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.   


As the country’s pork industry recovers from the African swine fever outbreak that began in 2018, China’s demand for dairy products is growing as consumers look to other value-added products. According to Trade Data Monitor, cheese imports were up to nearly 23 million pounds in September, while butter imports grew by 13.8 million pounds, a 7% and 47% rise, respectively, from 2021. The other dairy product that China is importing in large volumes is whey. Whey imports climbed more than 11% from last year, resulting in 138 million pounds. According to Sarina Sharp, analyst with the Daily Dairy Report, the rising demand of dairy products, particularly cheese and butter, suggests that demand for dairy is resilient, despite concerns about the current state of the Chinese economy.  


In their effort to reduce the use and registration of pesticides, the EU is proposing regulations to lower the maximum residue limits (MRLs). Although pesticides are strategically used as an integral part of modern farming for pest management, they often leave residue on crops and food products. Consequently, governments seek to regulate pesticide residue by establishing MRLs on crops and food products. The EU’s new regulations to further lower the MRLs of clothianidin and thiamethoxam on food products entering the region could potentially impact the trade of U.S. imports, particularly of hops, grapes, and cherries. 

These regulations are aimed to ensure that agricultural products are safe to consume and are not harmful to human, animal, and plant life. As outlined in the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, the goal is to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030. However, the shifting MRL policies and the differences in MRLs globally may create new trade barriers. Decisions have not been finalized yet, but affected farmers and producers are advised to monitor the developing policies.


The Agricultural Trade Office (ATO), in coordination with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), is working to address import suspensions on U.S. poultry and egg products in response to the ongoing cases of avian influenza (AI). Over the past few months, the Hong Kong government has lifted AI-related suspensions on several affected U.S. counties in Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. But as of October 21, 2022, a total of 75 counties in 17 states are still ineligible to ship U.S. poultry products to Hong Kong due to the AI crisis.


As the trend for a healthier lifestyle spreads and the number of one-person households increases, the demand for large pizzas made by popular franchise firms has been decreasing. In 2017, the franchise pizza market stood at $1.4 billion USD, but went down to $1.1 billion USD in 2020 and continues to decline this year. The expansion of the frozen pizza market is led by local food producers. Furthermore, the popularity of air fryers in households has had an effect in the demand for frozen pizza since they provide a superior alternative to reheating pizza in microwaves and a quicker alternative to ovens. The soaring number of single-person households has also influenced the preference for frozen pizza as they tend to come in smaller portions and are more affordable. In response to this, franchises like Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut are adapting their business models to fit the local trends. For example, they are developing menu items tailored to smaller orders, investing in their take-out marketing promotions, and forming partnerships with local businesses such as Yogiyo, the country’s second largest food delivery firm.


Consumption of food and beverages is expected to increase significantly during the World Cup season as people gather, both at local venues and at home, for a communal viewing experience of the live broadcasts of the 64 soccer matches scheduled between November 20 and December 18. The National Confederation of Commerce of Goods, Services, and Tourism (CNC) in Brazil expects a revenue of almost $.3 billion USD during the World Cup season in the HORECA sector (hotel/restaurant/catering industries), specifically in the food service industry. This is an increase of 8% from the previous World Cup season in 2018. According to a survey by Meta Foresight, the leading food categories identified are alcoholic beverages, snack foods, barbecue meats, and desserts.


Two convenience store chains, FamilyMart and 7-Eleven, are endorsing measures to reduce waste. Liu Zhao-Liang, Director of the Department of Business Planning at FamilyMart explained that the company is striving to reduce the amount of waste produced in the food production process, as well as in their ordering and sales operations. FamilyMart has introduced the “Friendly Food Hour” initiative, in which products that are set to expire within seven hours are sold at a 30 percent discount. They have also collaborated with the National Taipei University to promote “negative carbon emission” products. FamilyMart reports that these new measures have already helped lower food waste production by 370 tons per month and plastic waste production by 100 tons per year. 

Uni-President Enterprises Corp, which runs the 7-Eleven store chain in Taiwan, said they are working toward achieving similar goals. They continue to use the “smart tag” system, introduced in 2014, to notify stores when a food item is about to expire. Uni-President has also implemented technologies that project how many products stores should order by considering past sales and weather patterns that may affect the market. This approach is expected to help reduce inventory, and consequently, waste production.  


It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a turkey shortage and the UK is on course for just that, due to the loss of many free-range turkeys to bird flu. To help mitigate the financial strain this will bring to the sector, the UK government (in consultation with the Food Standards Agency) is easing the rules regarding the slaughter of turkey, goose, and duck. Producers are now permitted to slaughter their flocks early so they can be frozen in the run-up to the festive season. Defrosted birds will then be sold at retailers between November 28 and December 31. This is intended as a temporary measure to support farmers after 300,000 of the UK’s 4.5 million festive turkey flock were lost to bird flu by mid-October. It is predicted that this will double in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and that ultimately, half of the festive turkey supply could be lost by December. Since goose and duck are a traditional alternative to turkey in many households, similar measures are being applied to their markets.