Stallholders, industry tenants to get help if disruption to chicken supply is 'prolonged and extensive': Grace Fu
SINGAPORE: If disruptions to the supply of chickens persist, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will extend assistance to stallholders and industry tenants where needed, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Saturday (Jun 11).
She noted that the Government has been working closely with industry partners and trade associations to quickly ramp up alternative supplies of chicken since Malaysia imposed its export ban on Jun 1.
"The past three weeks have been a hectic time for many of us," Ms Fu said at the Meat Traders Association's 20th-anniversary dinner, adding that the association has worked with authorities to help hawkers and wet market stallholders switch to frozen or thawed frozen chicken.
"Such actions demonstrate our agility and nimbleness in responding to disruptions," she said.
"But in the event of prolonged and extensive disruption to supplies, as we have experienced when COVID-19 disrupted Jurong Fishery Port’s operations ... NEA and SFA will extend assistance to stallholders and industry tenants where needed."
As a country that imports more than 90 per cent of its food, Singapore faces multiple challenges that can impact its food supply, including climate change, pandemics and geopolitical events, Ms Fu said.
She cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the temporary closure of Jurong Fishery Port, as well as border restrictions affecting the movements of goods and people into the country.
Besides the pandemic, she noted the war in Ukraine, inflationary pressures and food export bans imposed by several countries.
"It is thus crucial that we do not put all our eggs in one basket. This is why Singapore takes a multi-pronged approach to ensuring our food security," said Ms Fu, adding that the country's strategies include import source diversification, growing overseas and growing local.
"Source diversification has been particularly critical. This is closely intertwined with food safety because of the need to ensure that we only import from sources that meet our food safety requirements."
While the Government continues to facilitate the opening of new sources for import, Ms Fu encouraged the industry and companies to "build resilience" into their supply networks by implementing business continuity plans, such as diversifying and maintaining warm links with multiple sources.
"This would in turn protect their businesses, especially during supply disruptions," she said.
Ms Fu cited the example of egg importers who have diversified their supply sources to import eggs from Thailand, Poland and Australia, reducing Singapore's reliance on Malaysia.
She also thanked Singapore consumers for their understanding and for also "adapting well" in accepting the various alternative forms of chicken and protein.
"I am confident that with our people, industry and Government working closely together, Singapore is ready to overcome and withstand any disruptions to our food supply," she added.