Indonesia is the largest tempeh producer in the world and the largest soybean market in Asia. As much as 50% of Indonesian soybean consumption is in the form of tempeh, 40% tofu, and 10% in the form of other products (such as tauco, soy sauce, and others). The average consumption of tempeh in Indonesia is around 6.45 kg per person per year. During the harvest period, the supply of soybeans is mostly obtained from local farmers, while in the waiting period for the main harvest, the demand for soybeans is supported by the supply of imported soybeans.

The need for imported soybeans to produce tofu and tempeh in Indonesia can reach 3 million tons per year. Since the beginning of 2021, tofu and tempeh producers have experienced difficulties in setting the price of their products and have chosen to reduce production by 30% in order to reduce production costs in line with the continuous increase in the price of imported soybeans.

Based on data from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), the world soybean price in December 2020 was USD 13.12 per bushels for supply in January 2021. However, in January 2021 the price rose 4.42% to USD 13.7 per bushels for supply in February 2021. This increase makes the price of imported soybeans at the level of tofu and tempeh craftsmen in February potentially around IDR 9500 per kilogram. The price has increased from the previous which was only around IDR 9100-9200 per kilogram. With the increase in imported soybeans, there was an adjustment in the price of tofu from the previous IDR 600 per piece to around IDR 650 per piece. Then the price of tempeh from the previous IDR 15,000 per kilogram rose to around IDR 16,000 per kilogram.

Based on this, producers are faced with the dilemma of price adjustment at the consumer level. The chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tempeh and Tofu Producers Cooperatives (Gakoptindo) said that the craftsmen in West Java have started to reduce production. This is done in order to reduce losses that could arise because the craftsmen cannot directly increase the selling price of tofu and tempeh.

The Ministry of Trade (Kemendag) stated that there was a decline in world soybean prices at the end of May 2021 but an increase again in early June 2021. The government asked soybean importers to adjust the price of imported soybeans so that they remained stable so that they could help tofu and tempeh craftsmen to continue producing. (Source: www.kompas.com and www.tempo.com).

Based on data from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), soybean prices began to show a downward trend. In the fourth week of May 2021, soybean prices are in the range of USD 15.04 per bushels or IDR 9,220 per kilogram landed price. This figure has decreased by 5.1% from the previous week, which was USD 15.86 per bushels or IDR 9,604 per kilogram landed price. In early June 2021, soybean prices were in the range of USD 15.42 per bushels or around USD 566 per ton. With these conditions, the landed price is in the range of IDR 9,377 per kg. Meanwhile, prices at the importer level are in the range of IDR 10,206 per kg. The tofu and tempeh craftsmen even mention that the price of soybeans has reached IDR 11,000 per kg in some areas.

The Ministry of Trade hopes that the decline in world soybean prices is expected to continue as several producing countries have entered the harvest period. This is because, although prices have started to decline, world soybean prices are still quite high. This will have an impact on the temporary adjustment of the prices of tofu and tempeh by 10-15%.

In addition, there are other problems that cause the purchase price of imported soybeans to remain high even though world soybean prices have decreased. Perum Bulog (State Logistics Agency) stated that the current high price of soybeans was caused by cartel practices and bureaucracy. The root of the problem of rising soybean prices is not a shortage of supply or limited foreign production. But due to the practice of cartels from soybean importers. Prices of imported food such as soybeans, corn, garlic, and meat are actually relatively cheap. However, it becomes expensive when it reaches consumers because of its multi-layered distribution. Every time the distribution move from one party to another, there will be a fee, so the shipping costs are expensive. Then the cost is finally passed on to the consumer. (Source: www.kompas.com)

Until now, soybean imports are still very much needed due to the lack of supply before entering the main harvest. Therefore, the handling of these problems must be addressed immediately so that the tofu and tempeh industry can develop in accordance with the expectations of the government and its producers.