US views Indonesia as potential export market for agricultural products

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The US views Indonesia as a potential market to export its agricultural products, taking into account that the current trade value of food products between both nations reaches about US$8 billion.

"Most of that, or about $5 billion, is Indonesias exports to the US, but here, we see the potential for more Indonesian imports from the US, as we produce meat, potatoes, fruits, and snacks," US Embassy to Indonesia Deputy Chief of Mission Brian McFeeters stated while visiting the US booth at the Food and Hotel Indonesia exhibition held in JIExpo Kemayoran on Wednesday.

One of the exhibitors also informed McFeeters that their business had increased by 33 percent as compared to last year.

Hence, the Trump government is highly optimistic of witnessing more quality US food products entering the country.

The US Meat Export Federation, for instance, is ensuring that it offers continued services to Indonesian restaurants and hotel businesses, considering that the country is one of the important markets in Southeast Asia.

"Indonesia has been a high-quality meat market. I know that our products are not cheap, but we have the quality, so in certain markets, we are able to sell them," the federations ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin Foung May informed Antara.

The federation has been exporting US beef and pork to Indonesia for years and is partnering with hotels, restaurants, caterers, retailers, and supermarkets to sell its major product, beet cuts.

According to May, US meat is different from the other countries products, as the nation offers marbled meat as a result of the corn-fed method.

"When your cows are corn-fed, you will notice a nice marbling, which are the layers of fat in between the meat. Marbled meat is juicier than the grass-fed beef, which is usually dry," she explained.

The federation has also been supplying to Yoshinoya, a Japanese fast food chain that proudly uses 100 percent US beef in their rice bowl dishes.

Not only meat but the US also promotes dehydrated potatoes that can be blended into dough or bread, pastries, and other baked products to enhance their texture and mouth feel.

Indonesia Representative of Potatoes USA Leonard Tjahjadi pointed out that dehydrated potatoes need to be introduced to Indonesians due to their convenience and ease of processing.

"We usually take 40 minutes to make a puree from five kilograms of fresh potatoes, starting from washing to mashing them. However, while using these dehydrated potatoes, we will only need less than 10 minutes, as we can just pour in some water and mix it," he explained.

Dehydrated potatoes do not require much storage space and have a shelf life of nine to 18 months when stored properly.

Currently, Indonesia is included in the 10 biggest markets in Asia for US frozen potato fries.

Taking into account the huge opportunity to market US products in the country, the US government is working along with its Indonesian counterpart to reduce some trade barriers, mostly regulatory aspects, related to its agricultural trade with the country.

"I think the major challenge is the general policy. For instance, people who sell retail packaged food have to undergo a lengthy approval period. Import licenses have posed a challenge as well," US Embassys Agricultural Attache Thom Wright remarked.(*)