Although most Indonesians still prefer to eat rice and noodles as part of their daily diet, an increasing number of Indonesians (particularly those who live in the urban environments and have adjusted to an ‘urban lifestyle’) have started to consume cereals and bread. In fact, Indonesia has become the world’s second-largest wheat importer and ranks among East Asia’s largest cereal importers. The country is dependent on these imports as domestic production of grains is close to zero (the climate doesn’t suit cultivation).
As Indonesia is experiencing a process of urbanization (over half of Indonesia's total population resides in urban areas) urban dwellers have adopted a new lifestyle that is in stark contrast to those that live in the rural areas. One feature of this new lifestyle is that many urban dwellers (both single and married couples) are increasingly consuming easy-to-eat food products for breakfast, such as cereals and bread products, as they need to leave to their offices. Moreover, in a city like Jakarta people have to leave early in order to make it on time at the office (given the severe traffic congestion) and therefore lack time to cook in the morning.
Apart from the convenience to consume easy-to-eat food products, there has also started to develop an awareness among the younger generations of Indonesia that the consumption of healthy food products is important to lead a more productive (and higher quality) life, such as choosing cereals for breakfast instead of fried dishes with rice. Increased consumption of bread and cereals may also be the result of government campaigns that promote the consumption of other staple foods than rice. These campaigns have been conducted in recent Indonesian history as the country struggles to produce enough rice to meet domestic demand.
Due to record harvests in 2014, the world’s current wheat inventories are around the highest ever hence causing low prices. Therefore increasing wheat demand from Indonesia is good for top wheat exporters such as the USA, Canada and Australia. The world's largest cereal exporters include Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU, Kazakhstan, and the USA.
Some facts and estimations:
• Consumption of wheat in Indonesia has doubled since 2002
• Over the past ten years, Indonesia’s wheat imports soared 63 percent to 7.7 million metric tons in 2015, while consumption rose 70 percent. Wheat imports are expected to rise to 8.1 million tons next year
• Indonesia may import over 10 million tons of wheat by 2020 according to Rabobank International
• Consumption of bread/cakes surged nearly 60 percent in the past four years, according to an estimate of the Indonesia Bakery Association
• Indonesia’s cereal imports in the next two years is expected to reach 11.5 million tons, up 3 percent from the volume of imports in 2014 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
• In five years’ time, Indonesia together with the Philippines and three other Southeast Asian countries may buy a combined 40 percent more wheat from Australia than currently according to the Interflour Group