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

September 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.  



At the end of June, Canada published the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations. This affects six categories: checkout bags, cutlery, foodservice ware made from or containing problematic plastics, ring carriers, stir sticks and straws. The ban of these products prohibits the manufacture, import and sale of these items. In order for companies to deplete their existing stocks, the sale of these items will be prohibited as of December 2023. The Government of Canada states that this new regulation is in alignment with the Government’s desire to address pollution, meet its target of zero plastic waste by 2030, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 



In 2021, purchases of soups in the Central American region increased by 18% to reach US$65 million. During this period, El Salvador led in soup imports, followed by Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica.  Panama showed the biggest year-on-year increase in soup purchases (32%), while most other Central American markets showed increases in the 10 – 15% range.  Nearly one-third of the soup imports by value came from the United States with regional competitors, Guatemala (37.36%) and Mexico (16.49%), also showing a strong market presence.   



European grocery retailers are responding to consumers’ growing interest in reducing food waste.  Recently, Dutch retailer Albert Heijn began a program to sell to consumers bundles of products nearing their “best before date” that may otherwise be discarded under the name “AH Overblijvers” (“Albert Heijn Remnants”).  Similar approaches can be seen with other retailers all over Europe.  The trend can also be seen in consumer behavior and in increases of sales of smaller-sized package options across all product categories. Shoppers are showing a preference for smaller-size size packages over large or family-size ones that often cannot be fully consumed before spoiling. For U.S. exporters of grocery items, offering different size package options when targeting the EU retail market will aid a successful launch.   


EU discounters, such as Aldi or Lidl, are reducing the number of branded products in their stores and sourcing more private label products.  While in recent years these retailers had moved to branded products to draw market share from traditional grocery retailers, they are now changing course due to high inflation and consumer interest in lowering costs.  This strategy shift takes discounters back to their roots when they sought to establish themselves as a lower-priced alternative to regular supermarkets.    If this trend lasts, it will open opportunities for U.S. private label producers and companies willing to offer their products under foreign labels. 



Mexican restaurant operator, Alsea, finalized an alliance with NotCo, to expand the offerings of plant-based products on their menus.  NotCo produces plant-based products that replicate animal-based staples such as burgers, chicken, milk, mayonnaise, and ice cream.  Alsea will offer a selection of these products in the diverse range of eateries they operate including Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, P.F. Chang’s and others.  Matias Muchnick, CEO and founder of NotCo, said that the plant-based food category has grown rapidly in the last three years and is expected to reach 22% of the total market by 2035.  


An instant wine pickup service, called “Wine Grab”, was released by Korean retailer Emart on August 31st.  Korean consumers will now have the chance to order and pick up a bottle of wine from any of Emart’s 130 megastores within a day.  As consumers use the service over time, the service will make recommendations of wines according to their taste preferences.   The number of consumers who enjoy wine at home increased amid the coronavirus pandemic with most bottled wine purchases taking place at megastores and convenience stores.  Typical prices of wines at convenience store range between US$8 – US$42.  The South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs predicts that the preference for wine over other alcoholic drinks is expected to continue to increase. 



Taiwan and the U.S. are undertaking the Taiwan-U.S. Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, a dialogue aiming to improve trade between the two nations.  Items discussed will include agricultural trade, trade involving small and medium-sized enterprises and resolving barriers to trade.   Top Taiwan officials consider the Taiwan-U.S. initiative to be Taiwan’s most significant foreign trade negotiation of the past two decades.  


Health food distributor Tree of Life and its sister company The Health Store have gone into administration, a process similar to bankruptcy in the U.S. Together, the businesses held the position as the UK’s largest health and wellness distributor, supplying hundreds of brands and more than 15,000 SKUs to retailers. Parent company, Health Made Easy, had been in financial talks to secure new funding and facilities but is now seeking a buyer to rescue the companies. The company points to declining market conditions and the loss of a major client. Over 140 staff have been laid-off.