The Indonesian wheat market is experiencing a rapid expansion, with consumption growing 14 per cent in the last financial year in Jakarta alone.
Indonesians consume approximately 20kg per person of wheat each year. Their Malaysian neighbours consume closer to 45kg per person per year; a significant figure considering the region has a total population of 248 million.
GrainGrowers general manager of technical services Dr Ken Quail recently travelled to Indonesia to host the Australian Grains and Pulses Seminar in conjunction with Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and Austrade. According to Dr Quail, Asia’s growing demand for wheat-based foods presents a unique opportunity for Australian wheat growers to capture new markets.
As part of his presentation, Dr Quail provided major Indonesian millers with detailed crop information from the 2012 harvest as well as results of recent baking studies. The reaction of the Indonesian millers was extremely positive, leading Dr Quail to acknowledge the potential for Australian wheat industries to be a part of this growth in Asia is enormous.
“The millers were keen to get information on Australian wheat quality from the recent harvest, but they were also very interested in bakery production. Given that Indonesia is our largest wheat market, I’m really looking to foster a good relationship with the mills there,” Dr Quail said.
Although traditionally consuming a rice-based diet, Indonesians today are finding bakery products a convenient alternative – leading to a growth in bakery products across the sector, including bread, biscuits, pastries and cakes.
“The diversity of baked products was really impressive and product quality has gone ahead in leaps and bounds in the last three years,” Dr Quail said.
“In one supermarket we visited, the bakery production was positively impressive, with excellent croissants produced from scratch. A feature of the baked products, whether it be wholemeal or even artisan style bread is the high levels of sugar and fat.”
The forms of retail are also diverse with bakery chains such as Bread Talk having a strong market presence. At this stage most production is in small bakeries with only a limited supply provided by centralised bakery factories.
Australian wheat is strongly favoured for the supply of the noodle market in Indonesia, however there is a preference for North American wheat for bakery production. Many of the millers are using blends of Australian and North American wheat to supply their bakery customers.
However, Dr Quail noted the millers would like to increase their use of Australian wheat in these flour grists for baking.
“To achieve this Australia must have a more consistent supply of suitable wheat. The high fat and sugar dough formulations require high dough stability. We need to work closely with the Indonesians to support the expansion of their baking industry,” he said.
“We have excellent knowledge and technology that can be shared with Indonesia. This is a really significant market that is looking for all sorts of assistance. I would strongly encourage companies to look at business opportunities in Indonesia.”