US, market to export food, personal care products in new normal

The United States, a country with over 350 million consumers, is a huge market to export food and personal care products, among others, in the new normal amid the pandemic.

“During Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), food and household categories have seen a 30-percent online growth in customer base. Now, markets here in the US have shifted from brick and mortar like supermarkets or hypermarkets to online,” said Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) Los Angeles Trade Commissioner Eric Elnar.

Elnar said many have moved out of cities to rural areas due to work from home arrangements, and this would have a lot of impact on the types of products they would consume.

“The latest consumer trends here particularly are pertaining to the mainstream market. Ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook food is now a growing trend because of the work-from-home scenario that we are in,” he said, citing as an example selling prepared bangus fillet to the Filipino market in the US.

Elnar said food ingredients for home cooking and eating organic and Kosher foods also provide business opportunities.

“Basically, you can segment the US market into different food trends. Recently, there is gluten free, some follow paleo diet, there is keto, more of focus on protein and less on carbohydrates. Of course, there are vegetarians,” he added.

Elnar said there is a demand for meal kits and subscription boxes.

“Some restaurants are offering this now here in the US because the lockdowns have closed down indoor dining so now, they are looking for other ways to support their business. So, subscription boxes are something that they saw,” he said.

Apart from food products, Elnar urged Filipino exporters to tap opportunities in personal care products especially in times of pandemic, including face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).

He also underscored the increase in sales for eye make-up like eyeliner and mascara, as consumers wear face masks most of the time thus focusing on their eyes.

Elnar said there is also a demand for facial care products that address acne problems as wearing masks causes acne in some people.

“So basically, it’s really the wellness industry when you talk of the personal care products, taking care not only of our bodies but also our mind. So, anything that can help relax or de-stress people in these trying times, maybe bath salts, maybe balms, other products that help alleviate stress and help lift our moods,” he added.

Elnar further said the US is still a market for design-driven products like homestyle-furniture, holiday decor, giftware, fashion accessories and jewelry.

“In the US, I noticed, if you live in a small apartment, people tend to redecorate every year so they change their furniture,” he said.

To boost Philippine electronics exports to the US, Elnar cited the opportunity in electronics manufacturing services that involve assembly or small parts in the electronics supply chain.

As the US retail has now moved online, he said it is imperative to sell these products to online stores instead of the usual brick and mortar supermarkets.

To this end, Elnar said the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) partnered with eCFULFILL to onboard more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the global ecommerce platform.

“DTI-EMB aims that exporters, especially MSMEs, should boost their online presence since in-person trade fairs are being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. DTI-EMB and eCFULFILL have already assisted 76 exporters to get on the platform and are targeting a total of 100 exporters for the partnership,” he said.

Elnar said the export caravan concept is another way to get Filipino products to the US.

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