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U.S. Beef, Pork Showcased in Northern Indonesia

Published: Nov 01, 2012
U.S. beef and pork were among the American food products on display at an exhibition held Oct. 16-17 at the J.W. Marriot Hotel in Medan, Indonesia. The event was organized by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service office at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta as part of the Global Broad-based Initiative (GBI) Program for Indonesia. USMEF’s participation was funded through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

Medan is the provincial capital of North Sumatra and the fourth-largest city in Indonesia. Its economy is largely driven by the oil trade, but it also serves as one of Indonesia’s leading business and financial centers.

While Medan isn’t generally considered a top tourist destination, its large influx of business travelers and ethnically diverse population have made the city very influential from a culinary standpoint. The two-day event attracted about 250 participants, including restaurateurs, hotel chefs and other foodservice professionals.

On the second day of the event, USMEF conducted a foodservice seminar and cutting demonstration. USMEF-ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin and Justin Cai, communication and marketing assistant, provided an overview of the U.S. meat industry and a presentation on U.S. meat production practices, USDA grading and inspection and foodservice buying specifications. Yin also conducted a cutting demonstration using U.S. beef chuck roll, showing participants how this large, versatile cut can be used to create many steaks and roasts – adding quality and variety to their menus at an economical price.

This was followed by a cooking demonstration and sampling of U.S. beef chuck roll and chuck short ribs conducted by Indonesian celebrity chef Vindex Tengker, one of the region’s most renowned alumni of the USMEF culinary training program. He is currently the executive chef of the Dharmawangsa Hotel and is well-known for his expertise in Asian, Spanish, Mediterranean, Mexican and American cuisine. Chef Tengker has served as president of the Jakarta Association of Culinary Professionals since 2008 and last year served as one of the three judges for the inaugural season of the Master Chef Indonesia television series.

“This product showcase and culinary demonstration provided an excellent venue for educating potential customers about U.S. beef and pork,” Yin said. “We focused primarily on beef for the culinary sessions because pork is not generally served in the high-end hotels and restaurants here, so that they can maintain the halal status of their kitchens. But there is demand for U.S. pork in the Chinese restaurants in this area, which are a significant part of the foodservice sector. Medan has the largest Chinese population in Indonesia – more than 10 percent of its total residents.”

Due to drastically lower import quotas, U.S. beef exports to Indonesia are down in 2012. Through August, exports (including both muscle cuts and variety meat) were 86 percent below last year in volume (1,440 metric tons or 3.17 million pounds) and 60 percent lower in value ($6.1 million). The market has been closed to bone-in muscle cuts and variety meat since the April 24 BSE case, but exports had already slowed dramatically before those restrictions were imposed.

While the predominantly Muslim population limits opportunities for U.S. pork in Indonesia, export value has grown impressively in 2012 despite a small decline in volume. Through August, pork and pork variety meat export volume was down 6 percent to 196 metric tons (432,106 pounds). Export value, however, increased 147 percent to $1.06 million.

“From a trade policy standpoint, Indonesia presents a challenging business environment at this time,” Yin explained. “But customer interest in our products is still strong, and the Medan event was very successful.”