The Jakarta Post
The Trade Ministry is working to ensure staple food prices, including beef, remain affordable and distribution remains smooth amid the COVID-19 outbreak by partnering with ride-hailing company Gojek, importers and retailers.
The Indonesian Meat Importers Association (Aspidi), the Indonesian Retail Association (Aprindo) and the Indonesian Market Traders Association (Appsi), all of which are partnering with the ministry, are expected to sell beef and other staple food at affordable prices.
Ride-hailing company Gojek, which has over 1 million drivers nationwide, will help deliver staple food as people stay at home in compliance with physical distancing measures.
“[The partnership] is expected to speed up the chain of distribution,” Trade Minister Agus Suparmantao said as quoted in a statement on Monday. “Hence, we can maintain affordability while effectively imposing large-scale social restrictions.”
The food supply chain faces logistical issues as regional administrations impose tighter social and travel restrictions to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has infected 6,760 people and led to 590 confirmed deaths nationwide.
As a result, slaughterhouses recently reported between 20 and 30 percent declines in demand for beef, the minister said.
Between March and May, demand is estimated to reach 201,730 tons, according to data from the Agriculture Ministry. With national stocks and imports, there is an estimated surplus of 62,850 tons.
Aspidi has 3,800 tons of beef in its stocks, while the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), the government agency tasked with securing national staple food stocks, has 110 tons in stock.
With the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and Idul Fitri approaching, the Trade Ministry recently issued permits allowing both state-owned and private firms to import beef for additional supplies. However, producing countries, such as India, are under quarantine, making it difficult to make deliveries.
Beef was sold on Tuesday for Rp 117,850 (US$7.56) per kilogram, 1.1 percent higher than the average price over the same period last year, according to the government’s staple food prices tracker, the Information Center for Strategic Food Prices (PIHPS).
“The partnership between Gojek and Aspidi will make ensuring affordable beef prices a priority, in line with Trade Ministerial Regulation No. 7/2020,” said Agus, a National Awakening Party (PKB) politician.
In line with the government’s stay-at-home orders, as many as 20 percent of Appsi and Aprindo members recently began offering online grocery shopping services. Many traders in traditional markets had used ride-hailing companies’ food delivery services even before the partnership.
“We are supporting the Trade Ministry’s program by using mobile applications to meet people’s staple needs amid the pandemic,” Gojek’s public policy and government relations division head Shinto Nugroho was quoted as saying in the same statement.
Previously, the Agriculture Ministry brokered a similar partnership between Gojek and the Toko Tani Indonesia Centre, a grocery store in South Jakarta tasked with providing affordable food.
The ride-hailing company is offering a free-fare delivery service for minimum purchases of Rp 40,000 at Toko Tani within a 25-kilometer radius from the store.