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Raising Awareness to Develop Demand for U.S. Beef in Indonesia

The largest volume and value market for U.S. beef in the ASEAN offers strong export potential but the plant approval process remains a barrier

Steady export growth for U.S. beef, expansion of Korean and Japanese barbecue chains, increasing demand for home meal replacement at retail and growing consumer interest in food, nutrition and culture point to developing opportunities for U.S. beef in the world’s 4th most populous country.

U.S. beef exports increased from 10,783 mt valued at $39.4 million in 2016 to 27,010 mt worth $118.4 million in 2021, according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Sabrina Yin, USMEF ASEAN director points to rising incomes and increasing demand for convenience as indicators of export potential. With beef consumption still at a relatively low level, Yin sees opportunities expanding for U.S. beef in foodservice and retail.

“There is growing demand for marbled, grain-fed U.S. beef from premium Korean and Japanese barbecue chains and there is strong demand for short ribs, chuck roll, rib fingers, hanging tender and skirt steak from fast-casual beef bowl and affordable steak chains,” says Yin.

At retail, ribeyes and short ribs are top U.S. products and consumer demand for easy-to-prepare home meal replacement products is growing. Beef variety meats are also in high demand, with beef livers, hearts, tongue roots, head meat and cheek meat imported by processors to make bakso balls (Indonesia meat balls).

The main challenge for U.S. beef in Indonesia is the plant approval process, says Yin. Plant applications are the most extensive of any country requiring establishment registration. (See a summary of the process here.)

To grow awareness of grain-fed U.S. beef’s quality position in the foodservice sector, USMEF partnered with several premium Korean and Japanese barbecue chains during April and May to promote popular meals with U.S. beef. With funding from the Beef Checkoff Program, consumer giveaways during the promotion included cooler bags and barbecue kits.

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