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WA’s food future lies in Indonesia

WA’S agribusiness future lies in taking part wholly in the Indo-nesian food industry, not just exporting, according to a report from Murdoch University’s Asia Research Centre.

The Agribusiness Opportuni-ties in Kalimantan and Sulewesi report, undertaken in conjunc-tion with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Agriculture Fish-eries and Forestry Australia and AusAID found the economic crisis would continue to impact but also hasten a trend benefiting WA business.

Asia Research Centre senior researcher Cisca Spencer said Indonesian supermarkets had previously imported foods such as biscuits, confectionery and dairy products. However, now many foreign brands were made under licence at much lower prices.

“The long-term opportunities lie in participating in the modernisation of Indonesian agriculture and food production through partnerships with larger and more forward thinking local firms, through investment and through the provision of food services and technology,” Ms Spencer said.

She said these opportunities were long-term, slowly radiat-ing out from Java.

In the short-term, most Indo-nesian agribusiness companies were struggling to survive, except producers of commod-ities such as cocoa, pepper and palm oil which were enjoying strong world prices.

“A new opportunity that may arise from the crisis lies in forming alliances to help Indo-nesian supermarkets be more competitive,” Ms Spencer said.

She said rules against foreign participation in the food distribution business were

being relaxed.

“The explosion of super-market outlets in the past five years has not been matched by a corresponding explosion in high-income consumers, thus competition between super-markets for consumers is inevitable,” Ms Spencer said.

“This could provide opportu-nities for Australian companies to provide expertise in invent-ory management, supermarket layout and planning, staff train-ing, warehousing, perishable products management and so on,” she said.

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