In a recent cultural phenomenon, a girl gained attention by wearing an outfit resembling the packaging of Rosebrand rice flour during the Blackpink concert in Jakarta. The clothing item featured the name of one of the Blackpink members, Rosé.
This incident led to a significant surge in clothing sales. This surge can be attributed to the fact that the original brand, Rosebrand, is a well-known name deeply ingrained in the daily lives of Indonesians.
With a deeper interest in the Rosebrand brand, our team was excited to visit PT. Tunas Baru Lampung Tbk (TBLA) factory, located in Lampung, just yesterday.
It was an extraordinary experience witnessing how a brand with numerous SKUs managed to uphold the quality of each product variant and build a strong reputation over the years.
Their product range spans from everyday items such as sugar, cooking oil, packaged noodles, vermicelli, and margarine, to even soap.
A variety of SKUs belonging to the Rosebrand Group
My journey commenced with a visit to the sugarcane mills, where the end product is the granulated sugar we commonly encounter on supermarket shelves.
During the current months (August to September), the harvest season is nearing its conclusion. By the end of August, approximately 90% of their 15,000 hectares of land had been harvested, a process that began 180 days prior (harvesting starting in April). Around 8,000 tons of sugarcane stalks are harvested daily, amounting to over 1.4 million tons annually.
The next question that arises is: how much of this can be transformed into sugar? The answer is merely 7%. This equates to around 100,000 tons of sugar each year. However, it's important not to jump to conclusions, as there is no waste in this process. I will reveal what else can be derived from this later.
Little did I know that weather plays a pivotal role in the growth of sugarcane. The high rainfall caused by the severe La Niña phenomenon between 2020 and 2022 had a detrimental impact on the sugarcane plantations. Nonetheless, TBLA managed to navigate these challenges skillfully.
Encouragingly, the current El Niño weather pattern brings good news to the sugarcane plantations. Dry and warm conditions are favorable, especially when interspersed with occasional rainfall, which provides optimal soil moisture. Similarly, temperatures ranging from 30 to 33 degrees Celsius prove to be ideal.
1. First and foremost, the process begins with unloading the truck's cargo containing sugarcane into the milling machine. Here, the sugarcane undergoes two rounds of cutting, reducing it into small fragments.
2. The sugarcane is transported to undergo the extraction process to squeeze out the sugarcane juice. This extraction procedure is repeated several times until the sugarcane pulp is left dry.
This is where I emphasize the concept of zero waste. Even the residual sugarcane pulp from the earlier process finds purpose within the company. It is utilized as a fuel source for the power generation that operates all machinery within the factory.
3. Moving forward, the sugarcane juice enters the evaporator machine. Within this step, water evaporation occurs, leading to the separation of water and sugar. The sugar content, which initially stood at around 12%, undergoes a transformation in this stage, reaching a concentration of 65%.
4. Next, carbonator machine. In this stage, the sugar solution is infused with both CO2 and lime. This not only makes the sugar even whiter, as it was slightly yellowish before, but also improves its texture.
5. Finally, this sugar liquor undergoes the last stage where it is heated to an extremely high temperature, leading to crystallization.
6. The ultimate result from crystallization process is the familiar sugar we commonly encounter. It comes in variations—pure white or slightly yellowish—tailored to cater to consumer preferences.
7. And last but not least, the packaging process ensues. From small packages to bulk sacks, they ensure a hygienic and systematic packaging approach.
The process of manufacturing cooking oil from Crude Palm Oil (CPO)
After being amazed by the experience of witnessing the sugar mills in action, I was also granted the opportunity to visit their refinery, a significant portion of which is utilized for cooking oil production.
It turns out that the process here is quite extensive. The reason behind this is that TBLA manufactures their oil from crude palm oil, while many cooking oil producers simply purchase RBDPO (Refined Bleached Deodorized Palm Oil), which is the final stage before cooking oil production.
This serves as an advantage for TBLA because they handle all processes, from the initial stages to the final ones, in-house along with other members of their group.
One of their notable aspects is the possession of their own port, along with a fleet of over 25 ships dedicated to importing raw materials and delivering their products to distributors.
One of TBLA's vessels, an SPOB (Self-Propelled Oil Barge)
In concluding my visit to TBLA yesterday, I couldn't help but recognize that Indonesia's sugar deficit of approximately 4 million tons per year presents an incredibly promising opportunity for this company. Just imagine, we'd need at least 40 times more enterprises like this one to meet the demand.
With the projected addition of 4,000 hectares of sugarcane fields in 2024, it's expected to act as a positive catalyst for TBLA's future. Moreover, considering the competition, it's evident that breaking into this space would be an uphill battle. The high capital requirement for land, factory construction, and the substantial electricity costs make entry extremely challenging.
In a landscape as demanding as this, TBLA's trajectory shines with potential, standing as a robust player ready to fuel the nation's sweet growth.