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

October 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.   


On October 9th, 2022, the National Agency of Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA) in Brazil stated that there will be new regulations on the nutrition labels of packaged foods. In addition to updates in the nutritional tables, the front of packaging will now be required to include warnings for high sugar content, levels of sodium, and saturated fats.  


Statistics Canada report that Canada’s inflation rate has dropped to 7% since September. However, food prices are soaring, rising by 10.3% from the previous year. The most significant increases have been in bread and baked goods (14.8%), fresh vegetables (11.8%), dairy products (9.7%), and meat (7.6%). With Canadians struggling with the increasing prices, Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw Cos. Inc., announced that they would place a freeze on price increases for their private label, the discount brand “No Name,” until January 2023. In response to this, Metro, Canada’s third largest retailer, has pledged that they will not accept cost increases from their suppliers from November 1, 2022 to February 5, 2023.   


In China, U.S. exports remain at the same levels as in 2021. According to a study by the analyst Chad. P. Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, farm exports such as soybeans, cotton, and sorghum continue to be the most positive performers in the market, with sales running 16% above 2021’s pace and outshining energy and manufacturing trade. However, much of this increase is the result of higher commodity prices rather than higher demand. Products such as pork, corn, and wheat have performed poorly this year. Hardening geopolitics have impacted global trade and the future of U.S.-China commerce in farm products is uncertain. Nevertheless, agriculture persists as a “bright spot” in U.S.-China trade.  

In the seafood sector, labeling regulations are causing challenges and alarm for foreign exporters. Chinese Customs Decrees 248 and 249, implemented at the beginning of this year, require food products imported into China to have Chinese-language labeling and identifiers inside and outside of packages. Exporters are also required to register with the China Import Food Enterprise Registration (CIFER) system. As of now, these regulations only apply to processed seafood, but they are expected to expand to the live sector, which may cause strain on food safety measures and hygiene management systems.


Although pricing and value-for-money continue to be main priorities for consumers, the demand for alternative proteins is increasing. With the boom of meat alternatives, retailers and discounters are introducing their own research programs to find solutions and meet the changing consumer preferences. The U.S. is one of the leading markets for food innovations and trends. Consequently, it is perceived as a role model for the sector contributing to the consumer perception of brands and for manufacturers offering potential for growth in the EU. Aside from the common plant-based alternatives, the idea of clean meat developed through tissue engineering will be an interesting topic in the years to come and a promising market sector for American producers. 


With high inflation rates, the prices of many consumer goods are also on the rise, affecting the prices at restaurants. The shift, now colloquially known as “lunch-inflation,” has been especially noticed by office workers who purchase daily lunches. As a result, more people are relying on convenience stores for their meals, which now sell a wide variety of prepared food options, ranging from side dishes to full meals. In fact, sales of prepared foods have increased by more than 20% from the previous year. Convenience stores have even started launching their own branded products and selling them at competitive prices. While these products are not exempt from the rising costs, their prices are lower and have helped convenience stores gain popularity. 


Many Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services have launched or expanded operations to meet the burgeoning demand in the past two years. These services provide customers and sellers with a “convenient and budget-friendly payment option,” explained Nguyen Hoang Long, director of the online commerce platform Sendo. The current e-commerce surge is also expected to promote the BNPL payment options and encourage merchants to offer such services. The food industry will be no exception. The Vietnam Market and Investment Opportunities Report shows that food is one of the most popular online shopping categories in Vietnam at 52%. The demand for online grocery shopping has been increasing since 2020, with packaged foods as one of the most successful sectors. As both the BNPL and grocery services expand, we can expect these industries to enter into strategic alliances and broaden their reach.