Defending foods of the archipelago

Posted by OmarTarakiNiodeFoundation
18 November 2012 | blogpost

“Traditional foods will prevail as multinational fast food franchises are no threat for them,” said Bondan Winarno, a culinary connoisseur.

Bondan was responding to a challenge posed for a panel discussion organized by KEHATI, the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation titled: Ragam Pangan Makanan Olahan Indonesia. Untuk Siapa? The Diversity of Indonesian Processed Foods. For Whom?

Fast foods statistics

Bondan backed his statement with numbers: A fried chicken brand that has been served in Indonesia for 30 years years has only 270 outlets while a burger trademark has 200 outlets. As they are competing with local food businesses selling similar foods, the numbers, according to Bondan, are not significant.

KEHATI provided important background information for the panel discussion. Indonesia’s population of 239 million needs a large supply of food. This archipelagic country, rich in plants, fish and livestock has 51% of food materials available in the Association of Southeast Asia Nation.

In the last five years, food consumption in Indonesia grows by 41%, making the country a lucrative market for imported processed foods and multinational fast food establishments.

Why processed foods ? 

Helianti Hilman of Javara artisanal, natural and organic products , emphasized the importance of processed foods as means to prolong the economy of harvested products, to add value to the products and to stabilize food prize.

Helianti further categorized processed foods and their examples as: 1) frozen for vegetables, fish, meat, and fruit; 2) dried for vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms; 3) fermented for soy sauce and cheese; 4) smoked for fish, meat, and chili; 5) dried and milled for rice flour, bulbs and fruits; 6) salted for fish, pickled vegetables and fruits; 7) processed-cooked for sauce, jams, noodles, and snacks; 8) sweetened for fruits compote; and 9) extracted for oil and essential oil.

Corporate social responsibility

Dr. Purwiyatno Hariyadi, Director of Southeast Asian Food & Agricultural Science and Technology Center, SEAFAST, in Bogor answered the challenged question by analyzing the responsibility of food industry in achieving active, healthy and productive population. 

Food industry has a strategic role in supplying food. The larger the scale of food companies; the more food products that they produce, and the more successful they are; they have greater roles and responsibilities to address a nation's health and nutrition. In community scale, food companies can assist in improving health and nutritional status through the following initiatives:

  • Investment for research and development to understand the behavior of public food consumption
  • Community development programs aiming at healthy lifestyle
  • Investments in sports facilities and open space for a community
  • Social activities related to food and nutrition such as processed food banks and food donations
  • Community activities such as nutrition gardens, and community gardens.

Indofood, a public listed company with sales of 37 trillion rupiah (3.8 billion USD) in the first nine month of this year translated its CSR programs into five pillars: Building Human Capital, Outreaching To The Community, Strengthening Economic Value, Protecting The Environment and Solidarity For Humanity.

Sugiyono D from the CSR & SME Division of Indofood explained the complexity of food  processing in a large corporation by showing charts and diagrams. Indofood’s products encompass noodles, dairy, food seasonings, snack foods, nutrition and special foods, edible oils and fats, flour and pasta.

The processed food industry, according to Sugiyono, requires technologies in post harvest, storage and process. Transportation and logistics and food standardization are also parts of the needs. Furthermore, materials should be available all year long with enough volume and meet quality standards.


To enhance the panel discussion, KEHATI invited its partner organizations for an exhibition that illustrated the keywords in KEHATI’s vision: Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity that respect fair and equitable beneft sharing and encourage human empowerment to achieve human well being as well as the highest quality of life.

Seven organizations exhibited their products and activities and interacted with the audience. These organizations were:  Yayasan Obor Indonesia, book publisher; Javara, Artisanal, natural and organic products; Perkumpulan Indonesia Berseru, a society campaigning for social change; Kainara, foods for special needs children; Sarongge Organic Farm; Indonesia Organic Alliance; and Omar Niode Foundation. 

Eating for health

Bondan Winarno who observed the Indonesian food scene is optimistic about the future of traditional foods. Investors at all levels now see the culinary business as promising. Opportunities, says Bondan, lie in processed and packaged Indonesian food, as kitchens in dual income families are alive only during weekends.

While campaigning for Indonesian food, Bondan reminded audience to know what they eat, keep learning about healthy food and how to eat healthily. To achieve this Indonesia needs a five yearly national roadmap.

 Indonesian foods are here to stay, but they need to be preserved


Images: Omar Niode Foundation