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Key Market Takeaways


Big Picture Report: December 2022
Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, SUSTA

SUSTA's Consultants Shed Light on Opportunities

The first week of December, SUSTA’s in-country consultants traveled to the U.S. for our annual winter meeting. They gave updates on market conditions, particularly on how U.S. agricultural and food products are faring. As we emerge from the pandemic and related restrictions, opportunities are starting to appear in each market. This is a summary of those opportunities:

In 2021, the European Union saw imports from the U.S. up 6 percent from the year before. Strengths of the market include:

  • Europe is a mature market with an old trading relationship with the US.
  • The shopping and eating habits in the EU are quite similar to the U.S., which makes it easier to understand the European market for the U.S. exporters.
  • There are good direct freight connections.
  • Europe is an important trader of agricultural goods.
  • Europe is a large market with affluent consumers.
  • The U.S. produces food products that Europe does not have, and the U.S. represents trendy new products/concepts
  • US food and agricultural products enjoy a good reputation for quality and reliability. US farmers have a good story to tell about sustainability, supply chain and their state/regional heritage
  • Growing demand for healthy and nutritious products

In Central America and Caribbean, consumer-oriented products are doing well. In 2022 to date, total exports of U.S. consumer-oriented products to the region totaled $5.7 billion. Strengths of the market include:

  • Proximity to the U.S.
  • Rapid urbanization resulting in a more service-based economy, and increasing numbers of office workers who will become potential consumers of high-quality U.S. food products.
  • Tourism has started to reactivate and thus new venues are open to sell/promote U.S. consumer oriented food products.
  • Major retailers have expanded the number of stores and floor space during the last few years, with plans to continue this expansion.
  • Local importers frequently search for new to market products to compete.
  • Consumers are more sophisticated in their food preferences.

India, with a population of over 1.4 billion people, has a natural advantage of numbers. Strengths of the market include:

  • India's economy is expected to prove to be the "most resilient" in the sub region of South and South-West Asia, according to a report by the UN. The economy continues to grow at 6-7%. They even saw positive economic growth post COVID-19, continuing to attract investments.
  • Consumer spending is on the rise, particularly when looking at per capita spending
  • There is a demand for quality products
  • A young population is online and aware of global trends, many of which are generated in the U.S.

Since August 2022, Mexico ranked as the first trading partner of the United States. This is not overly surprising given that we share a border! Strengths of the market include:

  • Easy logistics. Ten of the 50 entry points in Mexico represent almost 75% of all the value of foreign trade operations.
  • Imports from the agri-food sector reported an increase of 24.2% compared to the same month of 2021.
  • Projection 2021 – 2025- Total sales of retail sector will grow by 40%; E-commerce will reach an increase of 58%
  • Perishables, edible groceries and general merchandise are the top 3 departments that represent 54.8% of the channel's sales with growth of more than 13%.

90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. That proximity is a natural strength! Other strengths of the market include:

  • Comparable food safety systems and equivalency agreements for some regulations
  • Sophisticated transportation logistics and financial markets
  • Similar consumer preferences and relatively affluent consumers; familiarity with U.S. products
  • USMCA and duty-free tariff treatment for most products
  • Canada has a short growing season for most fresh produce, creating an opportunity for U.S. produce
  • There is consumer demand for sustainably-produced ad health-related products

In China, where pandemic restrictions have been most stringent and are still present, they anticipate a full reopening in 2023. Strengths of the market include:

  • Huge population with growing middle class - 1.4 billion population with 400 million in middle class
  • Demand for food, especially proteins, is huge, and domestic production is unable to meet demand
  • China is transitioning from processing/re-exporting to domestic consumption
  • U.S. food and agriculture have a strong reputation in China for quality, safety and innovation
  • In the Phase One Trade Agreement, China opened access for multiple high-demand U.S. agricultural commodities
  • Cross-border e-commerce offers new opportunities for exporters to introduce products to China without huge investment
  • Consumers are looking to eat healthier and safer since COVID, and the U.S. is well-known for innovative, safe and healthy products

Naturally, there are challenges in every market, from a looming recession to free trade agreements with other countries. Each country/region is unique and requires research before entering to make sure that it is a viable option for your products.

When speaking with each consultant, it seems that consumers across the board are more health conscious than they were in the past. Yet they are still budget conscious. So, if you can produce a healthy and economical product, you should do very well in every market!