Global Business Guide Indonesia

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Export | Joint Research | Joint Ventures
Jamu Iboe Jaya | Mr Stephen Walla
Mr Stephen Walla

More research and development still needs to be done to fully realise the potential of Indonesia’s biodiversity, and this requires considerable investment and technology

Mr Stephen Walla, President Director

With a history that dates back to 1910, Jamu Iboe Jaya is a longstanding player in Indonesia’s jamu and traditional medicine industry. What can you tell us about your company’s background and its strategies going forward?

Our company specialises in the production of three different product groups: Traditional Herbal Medicines, Modern Herbal Medicines, and Health. Our traditional goods inclues powders that are added to hot water and often characterised by a strong herbal taste as well as a distinct herbal aroma. As the most original form of jamu, the majority of this product group is aimed at the lower to middle segment of the market, with a smaller portion aimed at the middle to high segment of the market. Our more modern offerings include herbal supplements made available in capsules. These products are geared towards retail outlets such as drug stores, pharmacies and supermarkets.

We have recently been focused on the development of our herbal drinks production as a means of rebranding jamu in a more contemporary light. Jamu is still most commonly thought of as an old-fashioned heritage product, and it has been our goal to encourage consumers to associate jamu with Indonesia’s emerging healthy lifestyle trend. As part of our drive to modernise jamu consumption and reach out to a broader consumer base, we have positioned our herbal drinks so that they are more accessible. Jamu products can be quite difficult to obtain outside of traditional markets, and so we have set about establishing counters and stalls in major shopping malls and theme parks. In addition to this, our company also sells its products to hotels, cafes and restaurants.

It would appear that Indonesia’s rise in purchasing power brings about benefits as well as challenges to the jamu industry, in that consumers will be more able to spend but also increasingly drawn to products associated with western lifestyles. Given this context, what is your outlook for the jamu and herbal medicine industry in Indonesia?

It is important to keep in mind that as consumers experience an increase in purchasing power, they are also likely to become more concerned with their health and well-being. In this regard, we expect this trend to have a positive impact on the jamu industry.

In catering to Indonesians attracted to the concept of a healthy lifestyle, the challenge now is to showcase jamu as a product that should be consumed on a regular basis to promote health and prevent illness, instead of something that should be taken after getting sick. Jamu does not work in the same way as chemical medicine, and offers the advantage of strengthening the body and immune system from the inside when taken daily.

Where do you think is the next area of potential in terms of using Indonesia’s substantial biodiversity for medical and jamu purposes?

Indonesia has approximately 30,000 species of plants, and between 6 to 7 thousand have been identified as having medicinal benefits. More research and development still needs to be done to fully realise the potential of Indonesia’s biodiversity, and this requires considerable investment and technology. This country in terms of technology and R & D is currently not as advanced as other major producers of traditional medicines such as China, and we have thus prioritised learning about our industry’s latest procedures and techniques from other countries to continuously improve our products.

One application of herbal medicine that we have seen being used that has potential in Indonesia is as a complementary treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

What has been Jamu Iboe Jaya’s approach in reaching out to international markets and exporting its products?

The export of jamu and herbal medicine requires that producers in Indonesia adapt to different restrictions and regulations from each country’s food and drug administration. To reach out internationally we are therefore very interested in working with foreign importers and distributors that can offer an in-depth understanding of their market and its FDA regulations. The opportunities in this field are big, and we have identified countries that have a history of consuming herbal medicine such as China, Japan, Korea and Malaysia as targets for exports and distribution, considering that many plants of medicinal benefit can be found in Indonesia. We are also looking to reach out to markets that have started thinking ahead in regards to using back-to-nature products such as the United States, Australia and countries in Europe. In addition to this, countries with a large population of Indonesian workers such as the Middle East and Hong Kong also have considerable potential for our products.

Our company is open to input as it relates to adapting our packaging and brand positioning in line with the consumer preferences of international markets, because this can be one of the biggest challenges when exporting.

In addition to pursuing export opportunities, how is your company positioned towards working with international investors and foreign partners?

Our company is particularly interested in cooperating with foreign parties in research and development. As previously mentioned, the lack of technology remains one of the largest barriers to the growth of Indonesia’s jamu and herbal medicine industry and working with partners able to bring in new tech as well as knowhow of advanced production processes could address this. Collaborating with international partners for research and development also opens the door to combining expertise in herbal ingredients from Indonesia with that from another country to develop novel products.

As the fourth generation from your family to have taken upon the primary leadership role at Jamu Iboe Jaya, what are your aspirations for this company?

From a business strategy point of view, our priority is to continue to expand the company and make it more profitable through continuous improvement in all divisions and aspects. It is also my goal to encourage my employees to evolve with the market and change their approach to jamu in accordance with the latest preferences and trends. Modernisation in terms of products as well as corporate culture is therefore central to our development strategy.

What would you like our readers at GBG Indonesia to remember about your company and Indonesia as a final message?

Jamu Iboe is one of Indonesia's leading manufacturers of natural products that focuses on producing standardized high quality products and promoting a healthy lifestyle concept. In addition to this, Indonesian herbal medicine products are a great option for alternative and complimentary medication treatments. We look forward to working with partners to make and promote Indonesian herbal medicine products on the global stage, and thereby encourage widespread high quality consumer health and well-being amidst what can be challenging modern lifestyles.

Global Business Guide Indonesia - 2014

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