Ramadan Demand in Drives Australian Beef Import Boost to Indonesia

Jakarta, 11 Ramadan 1437/17 June 2016 (MINA) – Indonesia has dramatically lifted the amount of Australian beef it imports to try and push prices down.

High beef prices are hitting hard during Ramadan — the busiest time of the year in Indonesia’s “wet markets”, where shoppers buy meat for their nightly fast-breaking meals.

Indonesia’s Trade Ministry has increased the nation’s import quota of beef to over 27,000 tonnes. The majority of this meat will come from Australia and New Zealand.

Meat prices sit at around 120,000 rupiah ($12.20) per kilogram but President Joko Widodo said he wants consumers to pay a maximum of 80,000 rupiah per kilogram.

But butchers at the wet markets in the Jakarta suburb of Senen think the President’s price plan is unrealistic.

“I bought the beef for 106,000 rupiah per kilogram, and I need to trim out the fat. If we sell it for 80,000, what do we eat? We’ll be bankrupt,” one butcher said.

Another meat seller, Mahdi, said: “Maybe we can sell the carcasses for 80,000 per kilo, including the bones, but when it comes to the market it’s already been processed, and then the prices are 110,000 per kilo and 120,000.”
Live export demand also rising

The sellers say the only way to bring down prices in the wet markets is to have more meat available — and shoppers prefer freshly slaughtered animals to chilled or frozen beef.

“It’s hard for me to cut the frozen beef,” said one woman shopping for a meal to break her family’s daily Ramadan fast.

“I have to let it melt, this one I can have it cut already, the taste is better too. If you buy it frozen the blood is already drained out.”

As well as frozen beef, Indonesia has also been increasing its orders for Australian livestock, which are calculated separately to the import quotas for boxed beef.

Around 250,000 head of cattle were imported in the last quarter, which means Indonesia is heading for an annual figure of 850,000 head — up from 613,000 in 2015, 727,000 in 2014 and 453,00 in 2013.

Next year Indonesia will replace its quarterly quota system with an annual ordering process, said Muladno, the director general of livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The minister wants to calculate it yearly,” Muladno told the ABC.

This is good news for Australian producers who have battled unpredictable quarter-on-quarter shifts in Indonesian orders. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)