"It is only an interim estimation as we haven't completed all the calculations for last year. However, the first six months of 2006 produced more than $2 billion," association chairman Thomas Dharmawan told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. Although demand for the country's leading food exports like rice flour and canned fish tends to remain the same, the increasing prices of these commodities on the global market are raising the forecast increase in export value. In 2005, the value of food and beverage exports was recorded at $1.8 billion, a rise of 16 per cent from the $1.5 billion recorded the previous year. But Thomas warned, however, that Indonesian food and beverage products face difficulties in taking larger shares of their main markets in the US and European Union due to the high standards of those markets. He told the paper that the government needed to send more trade missions abroad to introduce and do more to promote Indonesian products. Indonesia's main competitors in the food industry are Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.