Beef Threatened Only to be Enjoyed by the Upper Class
Indirect import policies are even more beneficial for the upper middle class. The government's step to import beef only becomes a short-term solution in overcoming stock problems and beef prices.
Yohanes Mega Hendarto
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The delicacy of beef and the nutrition obtained from it cannot be enjoyed by the whole community on Idul Fitri. This moment should be an opportunity for the lower class to be able to taste beef. The community can also be fooled by the unclear types of beef or buffalo meat circulating in traditional markets.
Referring to data analysis on consumer participation by Statistics Indonesia (BPS), the middle to upper-class community groups and households in big cities dominate beef consumption. This measurement is based on the amount of public consumption compared with the people who consume it, not the total population of that year.
For example, in 2014, the participation of beef consumption by high-income groups reached 14.9 percent compared with the low-income of 0.7 percent. The findings were revealed by Tjeppy Daradjatun Sudjana, a retired researcher at the Agriculture Ministry.
"It can be said, the low-income population has subsidized the high-income population," he said.
Instead of stabilizing the price of beef on the market, indirect import policies are even more beneficial for the upper middle class. The government's step to import beef only becomes a short-term solution in overcoming stock problems and beef prices.
In line with the Agriculture Ministry's research and development division (Balitbang) analysis, the results of the Kompas Research and Development Survey found that the public who often consume beef comes from upper and upper middle groups. The survey conducted on 8-10 March 2023 on 502 respondents from 34 provinces emphasized the attention of fresh beef, not processed beef such as meatballs, nuggets and sausages.
It can be said, the low-income population has subsidized the high-income population.
Another result shows that half of the respondents claimed to consume beef only 10 times a year. The other quarter only consumes beef once a month. That means, in general the public rarely tends to eat fresh beef.
The price increase trend can be seen in the Strategic Food Price Information Center’s (PIHPS) monitoring over the past five years. The increase in beef prices from 2021 to October 2022 reached 6.6 percent or was in the price range of Rp 134,690 per kilogram. Considering that prices continue to rise every year, beef is increasingly not reached by the lower middle class, let alone the lower class.
Besides becoming a food of luxury, beef is often a special food served on holidays. Even some traditional beef cuisine from Indonesia is determined to be inscribed as an intangible world heritage by UNESCO.
The specialty of beef for holidays is also recognized by half of the respondents. On holidays, especially Idul Fitri, processed beef cuisine becomes a compulsory dish. To meet the needs of the holidays, the public tends to buy 1 kg to 2 kg of beef.
In field findings, the market price of local beef is currently around Rp 130,000 to Rp 140,000 per kg. The price has the potential to rise, which is common when entering the month of Ramadan and a few days before Idul Fitri.
Faced with this fact, the public still said they would buy beef even though prices were expensive. This confirms that the economic consideration tends to be ruled out in order to celebrate certain moments.
The need to buy beef, especially during holidays, becomes a chance for certain traders to commit fraud at the market. A number of traders often mix beef with buffalo meat and sell them at a relatively high price. There are even traders who sell frozen buffalo meat imported from India.
Frozen buffalo meat imports are received by traders in plastic packaging along with the brand name and other information. However, buyers find it difficult to distinguish between fresh beef and buffalo meat because the packaging is opened by traders. This is certainly different from supermarkets or meat centers that provide clear information to buyers related to the type of beef sold.
Of course, the public object and are disadvantaged by this kind of fraud.
Chairperson of the Indonesian Cattle and Buffalo Farmers Association (PPSKI), Nanang Purus Subendro, said the traditional market needs to be reorganized, for example through the provision of a signboard based on the type of meat sold. "Supposedly, buyers can determine their own type of beef or buffalo meat according to their respective prices," he said.
Apart from the existence of acts of fraud in the sale of beef, the public highlights the price of beef have risen from year to year. Therefore, 54.8 percent of respondents admitted, to get around the price increase, they replace beef with chicken or fish.
Like it or not, substitution is a step taken by the public to get around the price of beef that is increasing. The government needs to take the right step, in addition to relying on imports to stabilize the price of beef. The focus of attention needs to be given to encourage the growth of cattle population on domestic farms.
The cattle self-sufficiency program, which has long been launched by the government in order to meet the needs of all levels of society, must be realized. It is likely that beef will only be consumed by upper class groups, while the lower group consumes processed derivatives from beef. (KOMPAS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DIVISION)