Indonesia is to challenge Egypt as the top wheat importing country,
as the "increasing pace of life" in the world's fourth most populous country
prompts consumers to ditch rice-based meals in favour of instant noodles and
Indonesia's 250m-strong population, which has historically
viewed rice as its staple grain, is already increasingly been turning to wheat,
for which consumption has soared more than 60% in a decade, according to US Department
of Agriculture data.
Even so, Indonesians eat, at 26 kilogrammes per year, less
wheat per head than peers in the likes of China and Malaysia, and considerably less
than the global average of 76 kilogrammes per year.
Compared with rice consumption, at only 17%, they eat less
wheat than Filipinos too.
And wheat is to gain in popularity in Indonesia as the
country's young population, of which 44% are aged less than 25, and increasing affluence
prompt a switch to wheat-based products, Rabobank said.
'Increasing pace of
While wheat is made into products such as noodles, bread and
biscuits, which can be eaten with "minimal preparation", rice "takes longer to
prepare and is typically accompanied by other food items", the bank noted.
"The increasing pace of life in Indonesia has resulted in
more consumers choosing instant noodles and bread for their meals.
"With rising affluence… Indonesian consumers will start to
perceive wheat-based consumption as being more global or modern, leading to a
further shift away from the current staple of rice.
"The preference for Western, wheat-based foods will grow."
The impact of this consumption on trade, given that Indonesia
can grow wheat domestically, will feed through directly to imports, which will
rise above 10m tonnes within five years, Rabobank said.
"The growth in consumption of noodles and bakery products,
and the expansion of food service chains, will underpin this growth in imports,"
the bank said, adding that it would help meet an Indonesian government aim of self-sufficiency
in rice too.
The forecast is above the 8.4m tonnes at which the USDA sees
Indonesian wheat imports rising to as of 2018-19, and would come only 1.0m
tonnes below volumes expected to be bought in by top-ranked Egypt.
The USDA sees Indonesian wheat imports taking a decade to
hit 10m tonnes.
The prospect of strong Indonesian import demand bodes well
for wheat growers in Australia, its default source of supplies, with a market
share of some 70%.
Canada and the US are also major suppliers.
Australia's Abares commodities bureau on Tuesday cautioned
the country's grains industry over "greater competition" in exports, including
in the Asian market.
"Exports of grains and oilseeds from the Black Sea region
alone will increase to almost 80m tonnes by 2018–19, which is 20 per cent
higher than 2013–14," Abares commodities analyst Neil Thompson said.
"With increasing competition, Australian producers will need
to focus on productivity growth to maintain and improve farm gate returns."