Indian wheat shipments to Indonesia waylaid by certification snag

Wheat exports from India to Indonesia have been suspended temporarily after essential food safety test laboratory licenses have lapsed, trade sources have told Agricensus Friday.

The expiration of the licenses is likely to dent a recent export surge for Indian wheat, just weeks after the country's prime minister urged traders to seize the opportunity that fighting in the Black Sea has lent to alternative wheat exporters.  

However, Indonesia had paused imports of wheat coming from India after the licenses for food safety testing laboratories in India failed to be renewed on time, resulting in the labs losing their accreditation status.

A “Certificate of Analysis” by accredited testing labs is required for wheat imports to enter Indonesia.

The licenses were said to be valid until March 25, and as such any shipments that departed after March 26 are likely to have been affected.

The suspension includes not only wheat, but other agricultural products - although no exhaustive list was available.  

According to reports from local news outlets in India, government officials from both India and Indonesia have been in discussion since the suspension was imposed to resolve the issue, with one official expressing hope that shipments will be allowed to resume in the coming days.

However, trade sources also told Agricensus that the situation could take up to 30 days to resolve.

As such, some buyers have also put their buying on hold, preferring to wait to commit to further purchases until a clearer timeline is established.

“I bought some volume for April-June… but now I've stopped [due to this issue]. The seller said it will be resolved in 30 days, but who knows so I don’t want to take more exposure from India until things are clearer,” an Indonesia-based buyer told Agricensus.

Indian wheat has been sought after by importing countries, especially in Asia in recent weeks as an alternative option after wheat supply from the Black Sea region was cut off due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Indian wheat has also priced more competitively against Australian wheat, with the latest offers for August feed wheat heard at $330/mt FOB India for Indian 11.5% against $357/mt FOB East Coast Australia for feed wheat.

For the time being, buyers note that the suspension is unlikely to cause significant disruption to Indonesia’s wheat supply.

However, the issue could pose further challenges if shipments do not resume in two months.