SINGAPORE: The local retail price of eggs increased by about 4 per cent between June and November last year, according to Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
He revealed this in a written parliamentary reply on Monday (Jan 14) in response to a question from Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Associate Professor Daniel Goh on the cause behind the increase in the price of eggs in the past six months and whether profiteering has been a factor.
Mr Chan said the import prices of eggs from some of Singapore's import sources have gone up significantly between June and November 2018, some by up to 50 per cent.
"However, we also have other import sources where the import prices have either remained stable or shown slight declines of up to 7 per cent. As such, the local retail price of eggs has increased around 4 per cent over the same period," he said.
Mr Chan added that the price of eggs, and for that matter any food item, is determined by factors that include import prices, exchange rates, logistics costs and profit margins which suppliers can command.
To safeguard consumers' interests against sharp and erratic price changes, Mr Chan said a multi-prong strategy must be adopted.
Singapore must first continually and consciously diversify its supply sources and supply chains to avoid being held to ransom by supply discontinuities or supply chain disruptions.
"This includes sourcing from different countries and building up a certain amount of local capacity where we can and when it makes economic sense," Mr Chan said.
Singapore should also maintain a stable and strong Singapore dollar for the benefit of its consumers and to preserve the nation's purchasing power.
Lastly, Singapore should maintain an open competitive market structure to prevent any unethical profiteering, he said.
Mr Chan added that there is currently "no substantive information" for the authorities to conclude that the recent rise in egg prices was caused by anti-competitive practices.
Malaysia said last month that it was looking into limiting or stopping the export of eggs to ensure sufficient supply for its domestic market.
In response, Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said that Singapore has a “wide range of alternative sources” for eggs, in line with its food diversification strategy.
"Our importers are still getting their usual egg supplies from Malaysia," said the authority. "Nevertheless, in line with our overall food diversification strategy, we have a wide range of alternative sources for our eggs, including our local farms."
In 2017, egg imports from Malaysia made up 73 per cent of Singapore's egg consumption.
Malaysia’s Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub has said that a recent increase in egg prices in the country was partly due to bird flu, which caused a disruption to supply.