Indonesian agricultural imports surpassed $24 billion in 2021, as wheat, soybeans, rice, beef, fresh fruit, and various feed ingredients were the main categories. Australia, the U.S., China, Brazil, and India are the top five suppliers of agricultural products to the market, representing about 57.8% of the total imports by value.
Indonesia is the 10th largest export destination for U.S. agricultural products, and the U.S. was the second-largest exporter of agricultural goods to Indonesia, accounting for $3.2 billion or approximately 13% of the total value of imports, only behind Australia at 15%. U.S. agricultural exports to Indonesia experienced strong demand for bulk, intermediate, and consumer-oriented goods. The top U.S. agricultural exports to Indonesia are soybeans, wheat, feeds and fodders, distillers’ grains, dairy, beef, beef products, fresh fruit, and cotton.
According to the USDA, Indonesia imported 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans in 2021, which was a 0.6% increase from the previous year, and soybeans of U.S. origin composed a vast majority of soybean consumption in Indonesia. This consumption is predominantly for human food, as most imported soybeans go towards tempeh and tofu production. On the other hand, Indonesia’s livestock feed industry relies mainly on imported soybean meal and corn. To meet these demands, Indonesia imported over 5.3 million metric tons of soybean meal in 2021, with the two leading suppliers being Argentina and Brazil.
As one of the world’s largest cotton importers, in 2021, Indonesia imported $38.8 million worth of cotton from the United States, and only Brazil and Australia export more cotton to Indonesia. The U.S. also exported over $1.3 billion worth of genetically engineered (GE) products to Indonesia in 2020, including Bt cotton, herbicide-tolerant soybeans and meal, Bt corn, and other varieties of food products derived from GE crops and processed with genetically modified microbes (GMM).
Beef & Dairy Products: Due to challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesian imports of beef and beef products declined by 15%, only worth about $718 million. However, in 2021, the sector made a strong recovery, as Indonesia imported $970 million worth of beef, a 35% increase from the previous year. The same trends are present in U.S. beef exports as well, as, in 2020, the U.S. only exported $74 million worth of beef. However, in 2021 this number rebounded and set new records at $118.4 million, which was a 65% increase. As the economy continues to recover, consumer demand is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, creating great opportunities for more imports. U.S. beef is also experiencing growth in usage in traditional Indonesian dishes such as soto (meat soup in coconut milk) and bakso (meatballs) as well as retail sales. However, the sales of high-end hotels, restaurants, and institutions (HRI) have still been negatively impacted since the start of the pandemic.
For dairy products, over the past five years, demand for dairy imports has increased around 5.2% annually, mainly due to low local milk production, popularization of healthy lifestyle trends, increasing income among middle-class consumers and the introduction of new products to the market. Although the value of U.S. dairy exports to Indonesia is declining due to shipping constraints, overall dairy demand in Indonesia continues to increase despite the effects of the pandemic and local production issues. In fact, from January to August of 2021, Indonesia imported 673,553 metric tons of dairy, which constituted a 7% increase from the previous year. Major import categories included cheese, whey, lactose, and skim milk powder.
Fresh Fruits: Although Indonesia produces a diverse range of tropical fruits, demand for imported fresh fruits continues to rise. In 2020, Indonesia imported $1.2 billion of fresh fruits, and this number only increased to $1.4 billion in 2021. Major import categories were pears, apples, grapes, and oranges/mandarins, which altogether accounted for about 87% of total fresh fruit imports. Other popular categories were dates, raisins, blueberries, and cherries.
Snack Foods: Modern retailers report strong demand for snack foods at locations all over the country. Imported packaged food products are predominantly sold through supermarkets or hypermarkets. Although registration requirements for retail packaged products can be burdensome, exporters who find the right importing partner are often rewarded with little competition.
Food Preparation, Processing, and Foodservice Sectors: Indonesia imports a variety of food preparation products such as baking inputs (cornstarch, malt extract, baking powders, yeasts, etc.), ingredients for beverage bases, thickeners, and protein concentrate. In 2020, the retail sales value of packaged food amounted to about $34 billion, and this stayed consistent throughout the pandemic, as the 2021 figure was $35 billion. Indofood, Mayora Indah, Garuda Food Group, and Wings Group are some of the largest food processors in Indonesia, producing a variety of goods including snack foods, noodles, dairy, and beverages. Many processors rely on overseas suppliers to meet their demands for raw materials such as wheat, milk powder, chipping potatoes, onion/ garlic powder, cheese, raisins, and corn starch. International brands have expanded their stores to meet demand from an increasingly large middle class and younger and more urban consumers who are shifting their consumption trends to a healthier, on-the-go lifestyle. Therefore, many of these brands now incorporate higher-quality imported ingredients.