INDONESIA has become the first country to buy more than four million tonnes of Australian wheat in a single year.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Indonesia bought 4.29 million tonnes of wheat from Australia in the 12 months to September 30.
With Australia exporting a record 24.1 million tonnes to 50 countries in 2011-12, Indonesia's share accounts for a massive 17.6 per cent of total exports.
It cements its status as Australia's most important wheat customer, having topped exports for 10 years in a row.
It is the only country to buy more than three million tonnes in a single year.
While most of the exports to Indonesia have been in bulk, since 2007-08, a significant proportion was sent in containers.
In 2011-12, 355,949 tonnes of wheat was sent in containers, while 3.93 million tonnes was exported in bulk and 500 tonnes in bags.
Australia exported more than 2.6 million tonnes of wheat in containers last season, while 21.5 million tonnes were loaded into bulk carriers. The 24.1 million tonnes in total exports for 2011-12 exceeded the previous record of 19 million tonnes, set in 1996-97.
Cargill Australia sales and marketing head John Arrigo said Australia had about a 70 per cent share of the Indonesian market.
Mr Arrigo said the Bogasari milling company had traditionally dominated imports, although other millers now had a share of the market.
"They take a range of products ranging from ASW (Australian Standard White) to high-protein wheat," he said.
"It is not definitive or consistent in the grades purchased from one year to the next.
"The usage is for the noodle market and a variety of different types of breads.
"There is a big market for instant noodles, which they also sell to other countries in Asia."
Mr Arrigo said Indonesia had a high preference for Australian wheat due to its strong dough properties, cleanliness and low moisture content.
He said the high quality of Australian wheat often meant it was blended with cheaper wheat from other origins to improve its overall quality.
Mr Arrigo said most of the wheat exported to Indonesia was sourced from Western Australia and South Australia, due to those states' freight advantages.
"It's a very short sail from Western Australian ports," he said.