The Indonesian Cattle and Buffalo Farmers Association said that carabeef imports have negatively affected local farmers.
Nonetheless, Mr Suhandri estimates that carabeef imports will reach around 80,000 tons in 2019, and believes India will ask for a higher allocation for 2020.
Allana is a prominent carabeef exporter to Indonesia.
“The import of carabeef is directly related to our crude palm oil exports, for which India is Indonesia’s big importer.
“If we push our palm oil more strongly, India will surely want to sell more of its carabeef. I think they will ask for at least around 150,000 tons for the import allocation,” he told Asian Meat Magazine.
If that happens, Mr Suhandri believes that while total consumer demand will remain steady at around 250,000 tons, the beef market will see a shift. The foodservice segment will try to use carabeef because of its abundant supply and cheaper price. Carabeef sellers will also campaign to promote frozen meat.
He said local farmers should redefine their positioning and perhaps focus on making money during Muslim religious festivals. This repositioning will apply too to beef exporting countries.
“Australian beef imports may decline but I believe they will grow in the premium market,” Mr Suhandri said.
Indonesia sources around 55-65% of beef imports from Australia, followed by the US, New Zealand and Spain. Imports consist mostly of prime and secondary cuts, and offal.
“Secondary cuts make up the bulk because they go to households, MSMEs and meat processors. Imports of prime cuts for the foodservice segment has been stable so far,” said Mr Suhandri.
He anticipates beef imports will have stood at around 150,000-160,000 tons for the last year, roughly the same as for 2018.
Chicken and beef top in Malaysia
With a 98% self-sufficiency in poultry production, Malaysia is a net exporter in this category.
Chicken is the most consumed meat in the country, with per capita consumption of 46.7kg in 2018. Fresh, frozen and chilled varieties are supplied by big companies such as Leong Hup and QSR brands. The latter has captured a large market share through its KFC restaurant chain.
Malaysia’s large Muslim population also consumes a lot of beef, 70% of which comes from India, and the rest from Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Of the country’s overall meat imports, beef is top with sheep and goat coming in at 3%, according to a 2018 report from Meat and Livestock Australia.
Beef imports are expected to increase this year on the back of a frosty political climate. A tiff has led to India refusing to buy Malaysian palm oil unless Malaysia concedes to more beef imports.
Frozen carabeef cuts at a supermarket in Bogor, Indonesia.
As for frozen premium meat such as wagyu beef, local importer AAH Nippon’s Managing Director Ajwad Abu Hassan said: “We saw the wagyu consumption trend pick up this year but the market is still new, which has prompted us to set up a processing plant to offer smaller cuts in yakiniku or shabu-shabu portions.
“But I feel the market is too saturated when it comes to premium beef, and I foresee its consumption lessening in 2020.”
With self-sufficiency in pork at 92%, fresh pork meat is freely available. Nevertheless, Malaysia also imports pork products mostly in the form of frozen sausages, bacon and pork balls. Since September 2018, all pork meat and products from ASF-affected countries has been banned, and the government has not yet announced any changes to its import strategy.
Frozen pork products continue to be stocked in supermarket refrigerators, though these come only from ASF-free countries such as Australia and Germany.
Premium meat preferred in Singapore
No other market in this region is more reliant on imported meat than Singapore, which ships in everything from poultry to pork.
It also imports USD 11 million worth of live pigs from Sarawak every year and has banned all pork meat and related products from ASF-affected countries.
The small island nation is big on food safety, and has started to open up its pork market to countries including Belgium, which has just been declared FMD-free.
Its population is not just health conscious but it also cares about sustainability, making Singapore a hotbed for carbon-free meats such as the Borrowdale free-range pork, as well as Five Founders beef.
A recent meeting in Australia to entice Singapore food companies to sample organic and carbon-free products means more premium-branded frozen meat is on its way to the country.
Meanwhile, Brazil is Singapore’s main source of frozen poultry meat, though Malaysian brands are also present in the market, including Kee Song and Aqina. As in Malaysia, poultry is Singapore’s most consumed meat, with annual per capita consumption of 34kg.
More beef in Bangladesh
South Asia has had a mixed relationship with frozen meat, with many countries preferring their protein fresh and locally produced. Over the last few years, however, frozen meat imports have crept into various niche markets to cater for changing consumer behavior.
In Bangladesh, frozen meat imports have been steadily growing over the last five years, Shamim Ahamed, President of the Halal Meat Importers Association of Bangladesh, told Asian Meat Magazine.
In 2017-18, meat imports stood at 1800 tons; by 2018-19, they had grown to 5000 tons, he said. The country mainly imports frozen buffalo meat from India.
“It is cheaper than local meat, so many like to buy it,” said Mr Ahamed.
The imports have also grown since Bangladesh banned the smuggling of live cattle from across the border in India.
Keells frozen chicken sausages.
He noted that it was Bangladesh’s poultry industry that dominates the market though many consumers prefer to eat beef.
“People do not eat much beef because they cannot afford it. Only 2-3 local companies are selling frozen red meat and they are not doing that well,” he said.
Meat imports from Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan have also entered Bangladesh’s premium markets. Mr Ahamed expects imports to help boost meat consumption in the country.
Pork shortage in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, meat imports have been stable with some gaps in pork supplies due to ASF in China.
Nirosh Lalantha, Head of Quality Assurance and Research and Development at leading meat processing company Keells Food Products, told Asian Meat Magazine that a large quantity of beef, lamb, mutton, duck and seafood are imported on a needs basis for the country’s foodservice and tourism industries. Of these, beef imports have shown a downtrend, but the others remain stable.
Though Australia and Brazil are traditional exporters to Sri Lanka, Keells has more recently been looking to China for its pork. But “with the current disease threats we had to stop Chinese imports, so there is a short-term gap in pork supply,” Mr Lalantha said. He expects this supply gap to adjust itself by mid-2020.
The local frozen pork industry has also seen an increase in demand as more people consume pork. This has put some pressure on companies like Keells, which also re-exports pork to overseas markets including India.