Indonesians have long considered tempe (fermented soybean cake) and tofu as part of their staple daily diet. As most Indonesians are still living with low to middle disposable incomes, tofu and tempe are often considered good alternatives to meat which many Indonesians cannot afford to consume regularly.
With the recent rise in prices of imported soybean, tempe and tofu producers, which currently number more than 100,000, are seeking the government to help stabilise the price of imported soybeans so as to ensure their business survival.
Jakarta Tempeh Tofu Producer’s Cooperative Center (Puskopti) had made 3 demands for government interference. The first request is to interfere in stabilising imported soybean price. The second demand is for the government to offer subsidies as a short-term solution. And the third request is for the government to consider a long-term solution, i.e. to control soybeans under the State Logistics Agency (Bulog).
Puskopti reported that soybean prices rose every year and this had led to rapid increase in the raw material cost for tofu and tempeh. In October-November 2021, soybean price ranged from Rp8,500 to Rp9,000 (US$0.59-US$0.63). However, as of February 2022, the market price jumped to Rp11,300-11,500 (US$0.79-US$0.80). This is considered substantial. This has led to the rise in the price of tempe from Rp 5,000 (US$0.35) to Rp 6,000 (US$0.42) a piece as an example.
Nevertheless, to rein in the high cost, several tempe producers have decided instead to reduce the size of the tempe, so as to ensure that price remains the same and affordable.
Indonesia has the 2nd highest soybean consumption rate in the world after China. According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in 2015 the level of Indonesian soybean consumption was 3.010 million tons. Five years later in 2020, the national soybean consumption level touched 3.130 million tons. Almost all of Indonesian soybeans are imported.