INDONESIA is already Australia’s largest wheat customer – but there is scope to increase exports to our northern neighbour even further, according to industry advancement group the Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre (AEGIC).
Australia exported 4.6 million tonnes of wheat to Indonesia in 2012, and that figure could grow, according to AEGIC market program leader Roslyn Jettner.
Ms Jettner, who earlier in the month presented at an Australian Grain and Pulses seminar in Jakarta, Indonesia, convened by AEGIC, Grain Growers and Austrade, said Australian wheat was preferred for use in the noodle market.
However, Dark Northern Spring Wheat from America and Canadian Western Red Spring Wheat were being used in the ever-growing bakery goods sector in Indonesia, which has a rapidly expanding middle class, with a growing taste for western-style bakery products.
The Australian seminar was in response to requests by Indonesian millers and traders for more information on Australian wheats - grades, seasonal quality, processing ability and how to gain the best value from their use.
Ms Jettner said it was a challenge for entire Australian wheat supply chain to provide Indonesia with the wheat it wanted across a range of uses.
“Indonesia is the largest market for Australian wheat and continues to grow with wheat consumption up nine per cent during the past financial year, including an increase in the capital, Jakarta, of 14 per cent,” Ms Jettner said.
She said the number of milling companies had also risen significantly, with 21 millers now vying to retain or establish their competitiveness in a dynamic market place.
“Comment from our discussions with processors was that Australian wheats of medium proteins were excellent for the noodles preferred by Indonesians,” Ms Jettner said.
“However increased demand for breads, sweet buns, pastries and pastas is adding to the kinds of wheats needed and millers are requiring clarity on how Australia can service these changing needs.”
North American technical advisers have been proactive in south-east Asia over the past decade in showing millers exactly how to get the most out of their wheat in terms of end-use characteristics.
Australia has a natural freight advantage into Indonesia, with freight only costing around $20/t to ship wheat from Australia to Indonesia, but the tropical nation is also importing large amounts of North American wheat.