Use your noodle

Indonesia's love affair with instant noodles good news for Aussie wheat


Cropping
Noodles are big business in Indonesia.

Noodles are big business in Indonesia.

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ALTHOUGH regarded as a cheap and cheerful source of food, instant noodles are big business in Indonesia, which eats 15b packets annually.

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IT'S THE snack or light meal beloved by everyone from shift workers to university students and some swear by its restorative properties after indulging in a beverage or two too many, but at 50 cents a packet, not many people spend much time thinking about mi goreng noodles.

However, while we think we are mad for instant noodles here in Australia, our northern neighbour takes it to another level - and that means big dollars for Aussie wheat farmers.

Analysis from the Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre (AEGIC) shows Indonesians feast on a staggering 13 billion packets of instant noodles each year - a whopping 15pc of the globe's consumption of the product.

AEGIC chief economist Ross Kingwell said Australia was the preferred noodle wheat supplier for Indonesia, which consumes 3-3.5 million tonnes of wheat for noodles each year.

The vast majority of this demand goes into the instant noodle market, according to Prof Kingwell.

"Fresh noodles are a relatively small but still important segment."

He said while the story for Australia is positive, the boom times of growth had ended.

"Noodle consumption per person has gone through incredible growth over the past few decades, however that growth has now plateaued," he said.

"Nevertheless, due to Indonesia's strong population growth, overall demand for wheat for instant noodles will continue to grow by 350,000t by 2030.

He warned that other big wheat producers would attempt to muscle in on Australia's dominance of the Indonesian noodle market, in spite of Australian wheat's strong end use performance attributes.

"Even though they prefer Australian wheat due to its unique quality attributes, Indonesian noodle makers are learning more and more about how to incorporate wheat from low-cost competitors such as Russia, Ukraine and Argentina," Prof Kingwell said.

However, he said Australia's good wheat quality may help it be the major player in an emerging high quality instant noodle market, saying premium noodles were being produced using Australian wheat.

He also said Australia needed to focus on high quality fresh noodles.

"Fresh noodles, which make up about 20pc of noodle consumption in Indonesia, are more popular among wealthy, urbanised consumers. "These noodles have more sophisticated quality requirements than instant noodles.

"Australian wheat is already recognised for its superior colour and colour stability, which is an important consideration for fresh noodle sellers who want to be able to display bright, yellow noodles for as long as possible.

The story Use your noodle first appeared on Farm Online.

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