Author Topic: The truth about Indonesian beef consumption. Most eat chicken and vegetables.  (Read 2442 times)

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JAKARTA. New government restrictions on beef imports are hurting Jakartas ubiquitous meatball soup vendors.

The micro entrepreneurs that peddle hot bowls of “bakso” from carts across the capital say a policy aimed at helping farmers in the countryside is hurting their street food businesses in the city.

In January the Agriculture Ministry slashed the country’s beef import quota to 34,000 tons a year from 90,000 tons in 2011. Meanwhile the quota for live cattle imports was lowered to 283,000 head of cattle from 400,000 last year. Indonesia imported 600,000 live cattle in 2010, mostly from Australia.

The aim is to reduce live imports as part of efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in beef production and protect domestic farmers who have complained they can’t compete with cheap Australian beef.

But already, businesses are feeling the pinch of the policy.

“Our business has never been this bad. Sales have dropped by 70%,” said Tatat, a Jakarta meatball maker who like many Indonesians uses only one name. “Meat prices have increased 35% but I can’t pass the cost to consumers, so we have been forced to reduce the quality.”

On March 31 hundreds of Indonesians who make a living selling meatball noodle soup, rallied outside the House of Representatives. They warned that they would go out of business unless meat prices were lowered (even though meatballs sold at roadside stalls usually contain mostly flour and very little actual meat.)

Rising beef prices don’t seem to bother many other Indonesians though. They aren’t big steak eaters and the ones that can afford Australian Wagyu sirloin can afford to pay a little extra. The average Indonesian consumes only two kilograms of beef per year, a far cry from the world average of more than 40 kilograms per person per year.

Indonesians have proven to be much more sensitive to the prices of chilies, an essential spice in local households. When prices jumped almost fivefold in late 2010, Indonesians from all walks of life voiced their discontent, prompting the government to scramble to stabilize prices.

“The rising prices of beef don’t really affect us because we rarely eat beef,” said Murni Apriati, a Jakarta housewife. “We’re content with eating chicken and vegetables.”

Agriculture Minister Suswono told the Indonesian media last week that he was evaluating the situation. “This month we will conduct an evaluation on imports, local production and see what the problems are,” he said.

Industry players said Indonesia’s meat consumption for 2012 was projected at 484,000 tons or equal to 2.6 million head of live cattle, but only 1.9 million of local cattle are ready for slaughter.

In July 2011, Indonesia resumed importing cattle from Australia after Canberra lifted a ban on live exports earlier that year. The ban was imposed after footage was shown on Australian television of exported cattle being treated cruelly in Indonesian abattoirs, triggering an uproar there.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 07:23:41 PM by WA Export News »