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Saturday, 20 July 2013

Jakarta Today: Extra beef imports planned for Idul Fitri

The government will allow extra beef imports to meet rising demand during Ramadhan and the Idul Fitri holidays, in addition to the 30,000 tons to be imported by the State Logistics Agency (Bulog).

Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the government would allow more beef imports as current stocks had been deemed inadequate to meet rising demand over the coming days.

The imported beef, Hatta said, would be outside the additional 3,000 tons recently allocated to Bulog to help prevent the price from skyrocketing during the festivities.

“Based on our calculation, current stock is not adequate to meet demand so we will import more beef according to needs as recommended by the Agriculture Ministry,” he said after a coordinating meeting with other ministries on Wednesday.

Agriculture Minister Suswono said the ministry had yet to calculate the need but added that the government was ready to bring in more beef to adjust to market demand and reassured that the additional supplies would enter the country before Idul Fitri, which falls in early August this year.

Suswono said the government had yet to decide whether or not Bulog would be assigned to import the beef.

“We will grant the import permit to those who are ready to carry out the importation,” Suswono said, adding that annual beef needs for the capital Jakarta reached 50,000 tons.

The price of beef doubled during Idul Fitri last year from between Rp 40,000 (US$3.98) and Rp 50,000 per kilogram to between Rp 75,000 and Rp 80,000 per kilogram due to the lack of supply.

Last year, the government allowed imports of 85,000 tons. As this was insufficient to meet surging demand, the government then allowed the import of 7,000 tons of beef from New Zealand to meet
demand during the year.

This year, despite the shortage, the government reduced the import quota to 80,000 tons in 2013 — comprising 32,000 tons of frozen beef and 267,000 livestock — or 14.55 percent of an estimated annual consumption of 549,700 tons.

With the insufficient quota, Bulog has been tasked with importing an additional 3,000 tons. About 800 tons of the beef will be transported by air this week, while the remaining 2,200 tons will be transported by cargo ship and are projected to enter the market by the end of July.

As of Wednesday morning, 12 tons of beef had been flown into the country.

Bulog chief Sutarto Alimoeso said he did not know whether his agency would take part in importing the extra beef, but added that he preferred to focus on the 3,000 tons of additional quota his agency was currently handling.

Sutarto said his agency would distribute the beef based on requests from associations to ensure distributors would not stock up on the commodity to affect prices for their own benefits.

To fully meet demand, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan also urged feedlotters and sellers to not pile up the beef.

“Feedlotters have to release 109,000 live cattle to the market and stop stockpiling,” Gita said.
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