Spirits drying up in Jakarta cafes, hotels
The capital's food and beverage retail industry is struggling with a shortage in imported products, before an anticipated increase in demand for the goods during the year-end holidays.
Laura, the marketing executive of VIN+ wine shop in Kemang, South Jakarta, said liquor such as whiskey was in short supply, but the shop still had enough wine to meet demand until the new year.
"Wine prices are relatively high because it fluctuates with the U.S. dollar," Laura said recently.
Public relations officer of Nikko Hotel, Niki Ramadanu, also reported a scarcity in stock.
"We have had no problem in getting imported food, but the scarcity of liquor has continued for a couple months. It has been challenging finding a few certain brands," Niki said.
"But we have prepared enough stock of other liquor brands for this New Year's eve."
Some imported-food stores, like Kem Chicks and Ranch Market, on Saturday said they were also suffering from a scarcity of certain food and beverage products.
Rudy Sumampouw, secretary general of the Indonesian retailers association (Aprindo), confirmed the scarcity in imported food and beverages.
"Demand for liquor and imported food is likely to increase toward the end of the year, especially in tourist destinations such as Jakarta, Bali and Yogyakarta," Rudy said.
He said the government's ruling to watch over the circulation of illegal imported goods had caused scarcity of the goods among retailers.
The prices for imported beverages have soared since October this year, with demand outweighing supply considerably.
Restaurants, hotels and imported-food stores even have increased their prices of imported goods because the suppliers are charging higher rates due to the U.S. dollar rate, he said.
Many restaurants or hotels, however, prepared for the scarcity by purchasing food and beverages three months prior to the year-end holidays, Rudy said.
Indonesian food and beverage retailers have experienced a tough time over the past few months, following the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency's (BPOM) ongoing raids for imported food products.
The retailers have called for simplified and more concise requirements for registering imported products.
The spat over the regulations has lasted several years with no clear solution in sight.
Many of the products targeted by the BPOM had already passed food safety tests in their country of origin, but were not yet registered in Indonesia.
Consumers, especially expatriates, are also facing the impact of the scarcity.
Sachin Gopalan, an Indian national, said it was very difficult to buy imported food.
"So, we either stock up or get someone to bring it from Malaysia or Singapore," Sachin told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
He said there were a number of food items from home that helped ease his homesickness when overseas.
"It's already part of our lifestyle. When it is not available, we feel further from home," he said.
"It's like Indonesians not being able to buy instant noodles and sambal (chili sauces). Sure you can live without it, but why should you be deprived of them?"