Sat, 16 Dec 2000

Indofood plans more Middle East exports

JAKARTA (JP): Publicly listed food giant PT Indofood Sukses Makmur said on Friday its noodle exports to the Middle East were expected to reach about 5 percent of its total production in 2001 as compared to 3 percent this year.

Indofood president and chief executive officer Eva Riyanti Hutapea said the company currently exported about 80 million packs of instant noodles to the Middle East, worth about Rp 64 billion (US$6.7 million).

"I know it's not much, but we have to start somewhere," she said during a breaking of the fast gathering with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Committee for the Middle East.

Eva said Indofood's exports are mainly directed to the Middle East, which at present accounts for about 50 percent of its total instant noodles exports.

Indofood exports to the Organization of Islamic Conference's 28 member countries, including Brunei, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

"(We export to) Saudi Arabia especially, because there are many Indonesians working there and (the habit) may spread to their employers as well," she said.

The increase will be achieved gradually, Eva said, explaining that in the first stage Indofood would export and market its goods directly from Indonesia without appointing a local agent or distributor.

When Indofood is more well known to the public, Indofood will then appoint local distributors and carry out an advertising campaign for our brands, while the noodles will still be exported from Indonesia, she said.

"And when export volume is sufficient, we plan to invest in a factory in the Middle East," Eva added.

She explained that at the moment the market was still too small to open a factory in the Middle East. "If the market continues growing, then we will think of investing there."

She said Indofood was also contemplating exporting its packaged palm oil Bimoli to the Middle East.

"But first we will start with what we know how to process best, and that is instant noodles," Eva said.

Beginning next year, Indofood will also begin assisting small and medium-size businesses near its 14 factories and 22 distribution outlets in Indonesia, she said.

"We will create another division in our company called the International Trade Division that will look into each area's potential and help small and medium businesses there," Eva said, adding that many businesses had good products but lacked an understanding of quality packaging and export procedures.

"We will help them improve the quality of their processing and help them export their products to the Middle East," she said. (tnt)