Opinion

COVID-19 Market Report - Asia Pacific

Turmeric
Seafood
New Zealand
Rice
To help you stay on top of the agricultural market in these times, Tridge has compiled reports about the influence of the novel coronavirus on the agricultural market. Lack of demand and supply from China has uprooted major industries in the Asia Pacific, ranging from seafood and wine to ginger and garlic.

Border Restrictions

Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region have closed their borders to visitors. Australia and New Zealand still allow entries of essential goods such as trade-related cargo. Indonesia has closed land borders with Malaysia in the northern part of the country. This has caused a disruption of trading activities, as land transport has been halted almost completely in these regions.

Logistics

In Indonesia, every container or transporter must go through additional health inspections for all the goods and commodities that are carried through. This process can take around 7-21 days depending on the policy by local authorities. This leads to longer delivery time for domestic products, as well as for incoming commodities from overseas. Some fruit suppliers have switched to air freight rather than sea freight, as the delivery and inspection process is considerably faster.

Australia and New Zealand both have diminished flight capacity and, together with increasing border inspections, delays along the supply chain can be observed.

Regulations

National lockdowns in Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia are complicating manufacturing processes. Wine and chicken meat processors are amongst the most seriously affected. In Australia, livestock exports have also been affected. It was previously required for an independent observer to accompany the animals to the country where they were being shipped to, but now, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the government is urging the independent observers to cease operations for the time being.

The Indonesian government is imposing a purchasing limit for sugar and cooking oil to control supply, with limits of 2 kg of sugar and 2 liters of cooking oil per person. However, this will only apply to major retailers.

Influences on Exports & Imports

Indonesia imports many food products from China and has been affected by the Chinese border closure. Prices of ginger and garlic shot up as a result, but have been slowly coming down recently. The price of garlic increased by as much as 25%, a large price increase for a staple commodity. Certain fruits and vegetables often imported from China have also witnessed price increases.

Currently, the demand for Australian oats is high as China is aggressively importing oats after re-opening its borders. Due to the sudden surge in demand, the price of Australian oats will increase. However, Australian wine is going through a very difficult season. As most of the wine exports depend on China and Europe, the demand for wine has been drastically reduced. Exports to China have tanked by 90% within the first two months of 2020.

Live trout from Australia are generally exported to China, but due to the outbreak, exports to China have been suspended. As such, the price of live trout has plummeted from AUD 60 per kg (USD 36.50) to AUD 17 per kg (USD 10.35).

Lobsters from New Zealand also saw a demand and export decrease: It is estimated that around 400 metric tons of lobsters were not caught because sales to China collapsed. Low dairy prices globally, caused by low demand due to border closures, also affected New Zealand farmers.

Domestic Supply & Demand

In Indonesia, prices of Temulawak (a local variety of turmeric) have gone up as consumers are searching for foods that boost immunity. Despite its high availability, the price has gone up from USD 0.31 to USD 0.43 as suppliers are taking advantage of the increased demand. This goes the same for limes, which have increased from USD 0.49 to USD 0.61. Demand for aloe vera has also gone up as it is traditionally considered to be a natural antiseptic for hand sanitization.

There will be an increase in the supply of anchovies in Indonesia’s domestic market as demand from China has decreased due to the outbreak. However, exporters will face difficulties in distributing in the domestic market as well, as major ports such as Port Surabaya and Port Priok have closed.

Ready-to-eat products, such as instant noodles, have been in high demand as consumers are stockpiling non-perishable goods in preparation for limited food supplies.

Supplies of chicken meat and eggs, on the other hand, are expected to go down as the poultry industry has been halted in fear of the spread of the virus between workers and animals. However, the demand for chicken meat is high among consumers as they prepare for lockdown.

In Australia, excessive panic buying has caused a pasta and rice shortage in supermarkets across the country. Australia has experienced a devastating drought in 2019 and a hike in water prices for irrigation which has greatly reduced wheat and rice production. The 2019/2020 wheat harvest is at 15.7 million metric tons, the lowest in almost 12 years. With the tremendous increase in pasta demand, Australian farmers are running out of durum wheat, the crop used to produce pasta, and need to store the remaining inventory for winter production.

While Australian pasta company San Remo has assured its customers that they will try to ensure a steady supply, another large pasta brand Barilla is planning to import more stocks from Italy to meet with demand. Although Australia is traditionally self-sufficient in rice production, rice company SunRice has exceeded supply capacity to meet demand and is planning to import rice from overseas.

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