Indonesian beef and offal import permits finally arrive

AUSTRALIAN beef exporters have started loading frozen beef and offal consignments for Indonesia this week, following the issuance of 2024 import permits by the Indonesian Government on Thursday.

There have been lengthy delays in permit access for agricultural trade into Indonesia this year, for a range of commodities. Live cattle export permits were finally issued on February 16, allowing the 2024 boat trade to get underway. Beef and offal followed on 22 February.

The national election in early February was blamed for the delays, but this did not stop frozen Indian buffalo meat and Brazilian frozen beef receiving 2024 import permits back on 11 January. A number of theories are floating about as to why some exporter countries have gained access earlier than others.

Beef Central has approached DAF for some statistics on the size of Australia’s beef and offal permit volume for Indonesia in 2024. Any response will be published here.

There’s talk that volumes mentioned in recommendation letters sent earlier by the Indonesian Government to importers are considerably lower than numbers requested by importers.

Exporters have told Beef Central that offals had started to build up in cold storage in eastern Australia, as the 2024 permit delays continued, and processing activity gained momentum.

Some traders had evidently ‘taken a punt’ several weeks ago on 2024 permits finally being issued, putting beef and offal consignments on the water, but ‘taking the long way’, via Singapore. This suggests first shipments under the 2024 permits may have already landed in Indo, one trade contact said.

In January, an Indonesian agriculture ministry official said the country would issue 2024 import permits for 320,352 tonnes of frozen meat and offal to meet domestic demand.

On 11 January, Indonesia’s National Food Agency appointed two state procurement firms to import 120,000t of beef from Brazil and India this year.

Bulog was granted an import quota of 100,000t of water buffalo meat from India while IDFood was cleared to import 20,000t of beef from Brazil, NFA chief Arief Prasetyo Adi told local media.

The meat import quota for Bulog and IDFood has been kept around the same level as last year, Mr Arief said.

Significant trade partner

Indonesia is a substantial second-tier customer for Australian frozen beef, and a dominant presence in the edible offal market.

Australia’s January beef trade to Indonesia slumped dramatically, in the absence of permits. January beef shipments reached just 341 tonnes (mostly product shipped in December, clearing customs), having taken more than 4000 tonnes in December, and 1900t in January last year.

For the full 2023 calendar, beef exports to Indonesia totalled 68,387t, mostly frozen, ranking it the fifth largest export market for Australian beef. That was up 29,000t or 73pc on trade seen in the 2022 calendar year, partly due to declines in live export in 2023.

It was a similar story with Australian beef offals, with just 249t exported to Indonesia in January, compared with 1250t in January last year. Indonesia was easily Australia’s largest edible beef offal market during calendar 2023, taking 43,000t – 27pc of all Australia’s international offal trade.

February export trade data will be issued in coming days, with numbers likely to reflect the absence of import permits for most of the month.