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Briefs March 29, 2012

Indonesian consumers shun rice in favour of noodles

jakarta / reuters / Rising incomes are prompting Asian consumers to switch to noodles and away from rice.

It’s expected wheat demand in Indonesia, already Asia’s top wheat importer, will rise by at least five per cent a year over the next decade. The country imported six millions tonnes of wheat and flour last year.

“The No. 1 (reason) is price — cheaper than rice,” said Franciscus Welirang, chairman of the Indonesian Wheat Flour Mills Association.

Australia accounts for two-thirds of the country’s wheat imports, with Canada and the U.S. supplying 30 per cent of the rest.

“To date, Australia is still the cheapest wheat,” Welirang said. “It’s not easy for you just to sell wheat from any other country, unless they make a bilateral agreement.”

UAE stockpiles as Gulf tensions rise

abu dhabi / reuters / The United Arab Emirates has enough basic foods to last the import-dependent country for three months.

The UAE has built up stocks of wheat, rice, sugar, edible oils, beans, milk powder and animal feed because of its reliance on imports to meet 86 per cent of its food needs.

Iran has threatened to block the narrow Strait of Hormuz, through which most food and other goods consumed in the Gulf move.

In the longer term, the government hopes to raise self-sufficiency in vegetables to 40 per cent of consumption by 2013 — focusing on potatoes, tomatoes, squash and sweet corn, which require less watering in a region where fresh water is scarce.

Abu Dhabi offers farmers grants of up to $30,000 a year if they do not grow water-intensive crops.

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