Stakes are high in Indonesia as Aussie beef import cuts mean frantic local chefs can’t meet voracious demand
INDONESIAN restaurants have run out of beef and customers are furious after a fourday beef ban, sparked by a cut to Australian cattle imports.
As the final day of butcher protests dragged by, the country’s trade minister last night lost his job following public anger over rocketing meat prices and shortages.
The upheaval was caused by a shock decision last month to drastically cut the number of cattle being imported from Australia from 250,000 to 50,000 this quarter.
And despite an extra 50,000 slaughter-ready cattle now being ordered, Jakarta traders are still struggling to maintain business without Aussie beef.
The Indonesian minister’s sacking came as Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce warned it was “vitally important for … affordable food prices for Indonesia that this long-established and beneficial trade be maintained”.
Restaurateur Ery Usman, who owns the Barangin Padang restaurant in Jakarta, said the butcher protests had seen him run out of beef.
“I can’t get any beef in the market so far, so we don’t provide any beef menu in my restaurant at the moment,” he said. “I hope tomorrow I can get the beef again.”
He said there was wide speculation the shortage was related to cuts to Australian imports, although he just wanted the problem fixed.
“Most of the menu here is made from beef, so we really need it and the customers are also looking for beef,” he said. “I hope (the) Government can solve this problem soon.”
Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has been scathing of the Government’s handling of the quota system, telling the Jakarta Globe it was “basic supply and demand”.
“If demand is higher than supply, then the price will go up,” he said.
“We’re just not ready to be self-sufficient in beef supply.”
Trade Minister Andrew Robb will lead a 200-strong business delegation to Indonesia in November where he’s expected to push for a new annual quota system that would put an end to the volatility in trade for farmers and Indonesian consumers.
He also has been lobbying Indonesia to increase its cattle order in recent weeks.
President of the Australiabased Indonesia Institute Ross Taylor predicted there was more trouble to come.
He said the new Joko Widodo-led Government was still struggling to govern properly and its nationalistic view on self-sufficiency of food did not stack up when it came to the model it already had in place with Australia.