Indonesia a foodies' paradise
for F&B entrepreneurs

Six New Zealand food and beverage entrepreneurs toured the markets of Jakarta, met with “visionary” business leaders and climbed an active volcano on an Asia New Zealand Foundation tour to Indonesia last month.

Watch this video to get a taste of what the trip was like

The tour was part of the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative (ASEAN YBLI), managed by the Foundation for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The group met with Indonesian counterparts in the F&B sector and visited wet markets, high-end supermarkets, takeaway chains, food processing companies, as well as chocolate, coffee and spice companies.

The busy six-day tour started with New Zealand’s ambassador to Indonesia Trevor Matheson and Trade Commissioner Tim Anderson briefing the YBLI group on New Zealand’s relationship with Indonesia. From there it was out into the streets of Jakarta to explore the markets and food establishments the city has to offer.

Instrumental in making the trip a success were three Indonesian business leaders who the Foundation brought to New Zealand in previous years as part of the ASEAN YBLI: café owner and coffee exporter Indi Soemardjan (Founder PT Javanero), owner and founder of the world’s largest kebab chain Hendy Setiono (CEO, Baba Rafi); and chocolatier and coffee retailer Irvan Helmi (Director and co-founder of PT Anomali Coffee and PT Rosso Bianco).

“Their experience, knowledge and contacts were key to making the trip a success”, says ASEAN YBLI project manager Adam McConnochie.

Group member Lucy Bennetto (founder of Bennetto Natural Foods) says she was most inspired by the contacts the group made in Indonesia and stories they told about sustainability and traceability. 

“We met one inspiring visionary after another, so it was a continuous high in that respect. All the young leaders we met had such a passion for their products and their business; it was pretty uplifting.”

On the second day of the trip, the six entrepreneurs attended New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s Food Connection event where they had the opportunity to present their products to some 400 local distributers and get insight into how their products might perform in the Indonesian market.

McConnochie says, “The Food Connection event gave the group a great opportunity to market their products to the likes of hotels and supermarkets, both testing the market and getting feedback on their products.”

Despite the busy schedule, the trip was not all work and no play. On the fifth day of the trip, the group rose at 12.30am to make the three hour drive from Indonesia’s second-largest city Surabaya to watch the sun rise over Mt Bromo. After traversing the last leg of the journey by jeep over dirt roads, the group mounted horses and climbed an active volcano neighbouring Mount Bromo.  

“Waking up at 12.30am to go on a tour was out of my comfort zone (as I love my sleep),” says group member Sachie Nomura, founder of Sachie’s Kitchen. “However, in business, sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zones to create success,” she quips.         

Morgan Maw, Founder of Bonnie Goods, says that the value of the trip came from not only the inspirational people they met in Indonesia but also from within the group itself.

“I felt that spending an intensive week together created an almost incubator-like environment where we could converse, collaborate on ideas and critique each other’s businesses."

Running since 2012, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative has brought more than 50 dynamic entrepreneurs and business leaders from Southeast Asia to New Zealand, building business connections and facilitating trade links. This is the third visit to Southeast Asia the Asia New Zealand Foundation has organised for New Zealand entrepreneurs. In 2015, a group of New Zealand technology entrepreneurs visited Thailand and Singapore, while a group of social entrepreneurs visited the Philippines.