The Indonesian government is urging SMEs to export food and beverage products that have gained popularity in overseas markets in an effort to help the nation’s economy recover amidst the devastating effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Victoria Simulangkit, the deputy of production and marketing at the Cooperatives and SME Ministry, recently said that certain Indonesian products such as carica (mountain papaya), tempeh chips, crabs, and palm sugar; have all seemingly captured interest from foodies and food distribution companies from abroad.

According to Victoria, the producers of such products, most of whom are based outside of Jakarta, have managed to successfully penetrate foreign markets, including countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, and China.

“Food and beverages is one of the sectors that see high demand both at home and abroad, because people need nutritional intake to maintain their immunity and thus stay healthy,” Victoria said in a recent virtual discussion.

“SMEs’ products can become more than just raw materials for industries. SMEs can make products that catch market interest,” she added.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic which has thrown the world economy into disarray, Indonesia’s exports experienced a dramatic drop of 8.36 percent annually to US$13.07 billion in August; according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) projects that the global trade volume will contract by anywhere between 13 percent and 32 percent this year.

In an effort to boost their exports, the government is encouraging SMEs to monitor recent trends among consumers in export destination countries.

Despite this, Ahdi Lukman, the chairman of Indonesian Food and Beverage Producers Association (Gapmmi), said that Indonesia’s SMEs are still struggling to overcome new challenges that have been brought upon them as a result of the COVID pandemic; chief among them being issues regarding safety management and food safety.

Adhi also mentions that some SMEs may not have the necessary facilities like equipment, tools and clean water resources, and may lack knowledge on the proper implementation of health protocol and social distancing. However, the government is dedicating much of its attention to assist these SMEs in overcoming these hurdles.

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