Soybean prices rising, Food Task Force: “No deviations”

The IDR 2,000.00/kg rise in soybean prices caused tofu and tempe prices to increase a full 20-30%. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – The National Police’s Head of Public Information Division, Police Chief Commissioner Ahmad Ramadhan, stated that the Food Task Force continues to monitor the rise in soybean prices. However, despite this rise in prices causing complaints from tofu and tempe producers, the Task Force did not find any deviation. “It is the Food Task Force’s primary duty to monitor any food-related volatility. However, Food Task Force observation shows no significant result so far. The rise in soybean prices at IDR 2,000.00/kg and the consequent 20%-30% rise in tempe and tofu prices is caused by normal economic phenomena,” he said in his statement at the Criminal Investigation Division Office, South Jakarta, on Monday (04/1/2021). 

Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo stated that the high price of soybeans in our country is caused by a rise in global soybean prices. The price of imported soybeans is strongly affected by the United States, which is the world’s biggest soybean producer. On the other hand, China, as the biggest soybean importer has increased its demand. Consequently, Indonesia as a lesser soybean importer is hard hit by the increase of prices at global levels. 

This cruel rise in the price of soybeans as the primary ingredient of tofu and tempe has caused tofu and tempe makers to stage a production strike on 1-3 January 2021. Consequently, tempe and tofu support in the market has dropped. Syahrul therefore promises to encourage the availability of local soybeans, to cover national demand and resolve the problem of high soybean prices. “I will follow this up in the field. I will not make promises as yet, because I am still working on it. Insha Allah, if Allah wills it, the actions in our agenda will resolve the issues. But naturally it won’t be as easy as falling off a log,” he stated during an interview in the Ministry of Agriculture’s Head Office, Jakarta, on Monday (04/01/2021). 

Currently, soybean prices are in the IDR 9,200.00 per kilogram range – a steep rise from the IDR 7,200.00 per kilogram range a mere month ago. Tofu and tempe artisans and sellers were forced to raise the price of Indonesia’s most common folk food steeply. Iryono, a tempe artisan who produces out of his home in Jalan Harmonika, Cipondoh, Tangerang City, stated that now the price of a single tempe block 100 cm long is IDR 20,000.00, increasing from a previous IDR 15,000.00, in order to avoid reducing the size of the tempe he produces. 8-ounce blocks of tempe become IDR 12,000.00 from an earlier IDR 8,000.00, while 1.1-kilogram tempe blocks are now IDR 15,000.00 instead of the usual IDR 12,000.00. Meanwhile, tofu prices increased IDR 3,000.00 from IDR 30,000.00/box of tofu weighing 1.2 kg to IDR 33,000.00. Large tofu squares used to be IDR 4,000.00 each, but are now IDR 5,000.00. 

This increase in soybean prices, which pressured the increase in tofu and tempe prices, means that less tempe and tofu was sold. Therefore, tofu and tempe artisans reduce their production capacity from 1 ton a day to 600-700 kg a day. “Naturally, we hope that soybean prices stabilize and normalize. That will allow us to buy the usual amount of beans at normal prices, produce tofu and tempe at normal prices, and naturally sell them at normal prices as well,” Iryono said. (dan)