JAKARTA: Indonesia is looking to make inroads into Saudi Arabia’s herbal drug market following its first export of jamu, a traditional medicine, to the Kingdom last week, officials told Arab News.
Sido Muncul, a publicly listed herbal producer, shipped a container of jamu — a slow-brewed herbal tonic containing turmeric and other herbs — to the Kingdom on Aug. 10.
The shipment is worth nearly $100,000, company CEO Irwan Hidayat told Arab News.
Jamu is the go-to drink for Indonesians, who value it for its medicinal properties.
Hidayat said that the company has previously shipped Tolak Angin — an over-the-counter tonic comprising ginger, clove, fennel fruit, mint and honey — to Indonesian stores in the Kingdom.
“But this shipment marked our first official export as our product has been approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and the product labeling is written in Arabic. It will be distributed by our local importer partner and sold by major retailers,” he said.
The term “tolak angin” means repelling the wind and is the antonym of masuk angin or catching a cold. Masuk angin is used by Indonesians to describe how they feel when suffering from the flu.
Hidayat said Sido Muncul is looking to secure a distribution license for a more significant market share in the Kingdom.
“We are planning to submit more of our products for registration to the Saudi FDA. It would be good for us if we can get the SFDA’s license for distribution as it will increase our chances of securing the local consumers’ trust,” he said.
While the main consumer target will be Indonesians living in the Kingdom, Tolak Angin is already a favorite among Saudis, according to its distributor.
Kasan Muhri, trade ministry director-general for national export development, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is a “captive market” for Indonesian jamu products given the potential number of Indonesians living in the country and visiting for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage.
Indonesia has the world’s largest annual Hajj quota, with 221,000 pilgrims with nearly 1 million Indonesians visiting the Kingdom every year to perform Umrah.
“We also aim for Filipinos and other Southeast Asians, who have similar consumer behavior to Indonesians and are no strangers to herbal medicine,” Muhri said.
Sido Muncul’s first export of jamu is based on a trade deal forged with Mizanain Marketing and Trading, a Saudi Arabian distributor, during the 2019 Trade Expo Indonesia held outside Jakarta in October last year.
Muhri said the ministry is optimistic the exports will spur Indonesia’s biopharmaceutical and food sectors’ efforts to penetrate the global market, despite restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Muhri, this is also a notable move for Indonesia’s trade to Saudi Arabia since the biopharmaceutical and food and beverage sectors are exempted from the Kingdom’s recent tariff increase on 500 varities of products.
Data from Statistics Indonesia showed that exports of biopharmaceutical products increased to $4.2 million or 32.8 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year — a favorable outcome despite the decline in purchasing power globally.