U.S. beef was featured at two foodservice showcase seminars in Indonesia. The two-day events were organized by FAS-Jakarta as part of USDA’s Global Based Initiative, which is focused on providing greater exposure for U.S. agricultural products in secondary cities and regions. USMEF’s participation was made possible through support from the Beef Checkoff Program.
The first showcase event was conducted on the island of Lombok, a popular destination for travelers seeking a quieter and less-developed alternative to its more widely known neighbor, Bali, located 25 miles to the west. Lombok first emerged as a major tourist destination in the 1980s, but was significantly impacted by the 2002 bombing in Bali and other factors that reduced travel to the area. Tourism has achieved a remarkable rebound in Lombok in recent years, bolstered by the opening of a new, international airport in 2011.
The second seminar was held in Palembang, one of Indonesia’s oldest and most historic cities. With a population of about 1.75 million, it is the seventh-largest city in Indonesia and the second-largest on the island of Sumatra.
USMEF conducted cutting seminars at each of the events, as well as cooking demonstrations and tastings featuring Vindex Tengker, one of Indonesia’s most prominent celebrity chefs and culinary experts. Local importers of U.S. beef were also on hand to display products and meet with prospective buyers. The showcase events attracted a total of about 200 restaurateurs, chefs and other foodservice professionals.
Indonesia was once a top 10 destination for U.S. beef/beef variety meat, before restrictive import policies drastically reduced U.S. exports in 2012. Shipments rebounded to some degree in 2013 and reached $26.8 million last year, but the regulatory climate in Indonesia remains very uncertain. On March 19, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the United States has requested that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to examine Indonesia’s import restrictions on a range of U.S. agricultural products, including U.S. beef.