Indonesians butter up to bread items
IN MANY homes across Indonesia, rice ranks as a top option for meals but, nowadays, noodles and bread have as equal a chance to be served as staples on the table.
Indonesians, known for a long time as among the world's top rice eaters, are undergoing a shift in what they eat as staple foods.
Consumption of wheat-based products such as noodles and bread has been rising significantly in the past 10 years - making the country the world's second-largest wheat importer - while per capita rice consumption has stagnated, according to recent research by Dutch lender Rabobank.
Baked goods grew 11.7 per cent on average in value and 5.5 per cent in volume, as more companies expanded their capacity and opened new stores in smaller cities, the research found.
"The growing middle class and changing lifestyles provide a big opportunity for bakery companies, as these consumers have strong buying power, while they embrace modern, Western lifestyles," Rabobank consumer foods analyst Haris Rahmanto wrote in the research report.
This has supported the mushrooming of cafes and restaurants that sell baked products for dishes such as sandwiches and cakes, and to accompany the rising coffee culture.
Artisanal bakeries, which make their products at points of sale, make up almost half of Indonesia's total bakery market value, followed by industrial bakeries (33 per cent) and private labels (18 per cent).
The name BreadTalk may ring a bell to many. The Singapore franchise boutique bakery currently has 162 stores nationwide, from Jayapura to Singkawang and Bali.
"The rising demand for bread in the country can be seen by the increasing number of our stores," BreadTalk brand manager Tessa Adriani said. It is planning to open 20 to 30 stores this year.
In capital city Jakarta, bakery boutiques are widespread in shopping centres.
Customers such as Richard Gumulya, 24, are helping boost sales as his family spends 500,000 rupiah (S$51) to 700,000 rupiah per month on bread at Union brasserie, bakery and bar.
Union's Pondok Indah outlet in south Jakarta can sell more than 100 cakes a day. The figure could double during weekends, said a staff member.
Bread items are also flying off the shelves at minimart giants Alfamart and Indomaret, which have more than 20,000 stores across the country.
"The sales of bread in Indomaret have shown an increasing trend," said Haliman Kustedjo, president director of Indoritel Makmur International, the parent company of Indomaret operator Indomarco Prismatama.
Indomaret has seen bread sales rise by 25 per cent to 30 per cent per year in the past five years, both in value and volume.
In 11,000 Alfamart stores throughout the archipelago, sales of its private label bread has surged by 81.3 per cent in the January to March period of this year compared with the same period a year ago.
Sales of other brands that include industrial bread like Sari Roti and Mr Bread soared even higher, by 84.2 per cent.
But it will be a top challenge for other producers to reach Sari Roti's level of nationwide presence. The Rabobank report noted: "Short shelf life is a classic problem for the bakery business and an even bigger problem for a country with a geographical profile as unique as Indonesia."
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK