Farming Landscape

Indiana's Soybean Delegation Navigating Trade Opportunities in Indonesia


Indiana’s state delegation’s trip to Indonesia for a trade mission highlights the importance of selling soybeans to boost Indiana’s exports and build trade partnerships between the two regions.

On February 16, 2024, the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) organized a trip for a delegation to travel to Indonesia to meet potential soybean buyers. The delegation included representatives from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Greensburg Mayor Josh Marsh, multiple farmers, and business owners throughout the state. The trip aimed to reach a deal to sell up to 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans to Indonesia annually, representing about a quarter of Indiana's yearly production of soybeans. The export valuation is an estimated $110 million.

In 2022, Indiana emerged as the United States’ seventh-largest agricultural exporter, with exports worth an estimated $7.4 billion. The United States Department of Agriculture is aiding the expansion of specialty crop sales, including soybeans, through the $1.3 billion Regional Agricultural Promotion Program to diversify export markets and increase American producers' competitiveness.

During the trip, Mayor Marsh said to Brownfield Ag News that, “Decatur County (home to Greensburg) is a very agriculture-based community which supports a lot of finances and employment in our community,”. “And hopefully from a government perspective we can help smooth out what that transition looks like so that we can provide a high-quality product that’s both beneficial to Indonesia and to Greensburg, Decatur County and the state of Indiana,” he added.

Indonesia's soy consumption surpasses 2 million tons annually, while domestic production is only around 800,000 tons. As the largest consumer of US soybeans, Indonesia relies on US supplies for its staple food items like tofu and tempeh, fermented soybean products. Indiana farmers have an opportunity to provide a premium product with high-protein content. Their competitive edge lies in distribution, leveraging expertise in seed technology, and sustainable soybean production to deliver superior-quality products.

The challenge of ISA in exporting its product to Indonesia is in the distribution across its vast archipelago of over 17,000 islands. However, the potential market for shipping soybean and corn commodities to these regions could reach up to 11,600 containers annually. Another challenge for ISA in selling its product is storing large volumes of soybeans due to the high humidity prevalent in Indonesia. Rather than storing soybeans in large quantities, ISA will customize the amount purchased to meet each customer’s specific needs to ensure the product quality. ISA is also planning to export soybeans in containers to Indonesian buyers directly.

For the prospects besides this partnership, Andrew Sherman, International Trade Director for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, sees opportunities beyond soybeans for Indiana-made products in Indonesia, including dairy, high-protein snacks, and other packaged goods.

Arrizka Faida is a Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington DC. She received her master’s degree from Cornell University, Brooks School of Public Policy, studying MPA in Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy.