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No need to hoard as Singapore has adequate supplies of frozen chicken: Desmond Tan

No need to hoard as Singapore has adequate supplies of frozen chicken: Desmond Tan

NTUC FairPrice’s fresh food distribution centre at Upper Thomson Road. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: There’s no need to hoard or over purchase frozen chicken as Singapore has an adequate supply, said Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan on Thursday (May 26) as he sought to reassure the public ahead of Malaysia’s chicken export ban.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of his visit to NTUC FairPrice’s fresh food distribution centre at Upper Thomson Road, Mr Tan said over-buying and hoarding frozen chicken could result in empty shelves.

“If we’re going to panic buy, there will not be enough stock on the shelves,” he said.

“So we'd like to encourage every Singaporean that, during this time, we should from time to time expect that there'll be some kind of disruption resulting from either geopolitical development or even climate change,” he said.

“Therefore, we have to be resilient, we have to be adaptable, we got to stay calm and stay united. I'm sure we can ride through any challenges.” 

Mr Tan added that about 70 per cent of Singapore’s chicken imports are frozen and come from many other countries as authorities have made an effort to diversify food supply over the years. Other sources include Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the US.

Boxes of frozen chicken at NTUC FairPrice’s fresh food distribution centre at Upper Thomson Road. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)
Boxes of frozen chicken at NTUC FairPrice’s fresh food distribution centre at Upper Thomson Road. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)
Boxes of frozen chicken at NTUC FairPrice’s fresh food distribution centre at Upper Thomson Road. (Photo: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan)

FairPrice, Singapore's largest supermarket chain, said it has a stockpile of four months of frozen chicken and another two months of supply coming in “very soon”. 

“We're working very closely with our strategic partners as well as government agencies to ramp up our supply on different sources for chicken,” said deputy group chief executive officer of FairPrice Group Elaine Heng. 

“We'd like to encourage our customers to consider frozen chicken and other alternative protein options.” 

Malaysia’s move to halt chicken exports, which takes effect on Jun 1, comes after months of supply issues and rising prices in the country. 

According to major players in the chicken industry, factors that have affected supply include the rising costs of chicken production, disease infection and weather conditions.

IMPACT ON CHICKEN PRICES 

Singapore imports about 34 per cent of its chicken supply from Malaysia. 

Ahead of the export ban, wet market chicken sellers who spoke to CNA on Thursday said they are already facing a 20 to 70 per cent shortage. Customers are also buying more in a bid to stock up, they added.

Some stallholders told CNA earlier this week that they may have to close temporarily if supply issues persist, pushing up prices.

Chicken importers have also expressed concern about switching to other sources on short notice.

”We are looking at alternative source countries for chilled chicken ... for example, Australia, and even closer countries as well," said Mr Tan, adding that the Government is monitoring the situation closely.

"We have not seen an increase in prices but we will continue to monitor,” he said.

"Even in our sourcing of supplies, we will also consider the prices of these chickens that are being imported and that will be an important consideration as well."

According to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), the supply of chicken, chicken parts and related products was “generally stable and sufficiently stocked” at 16 supermarkets across Singapore on Thursday morning.

“A few outlets were low in supply but there were alternatives in other outlets in the vicinity,” said CASE president Melvin Yong in a Facebook post.

“According to data listed on Price Kaki, prices have generally remained stable across major supermarket chains, especially those of supermarket house brands,” he added, referring to a price comparison app. 

The Singapore Food Agency said on Monday that it is working with stakeholders, including importers, to minimise the impact of Malaysia’s chicken export ban on Singapore’s supply. 

This includes activating importers’ supply chains to increase imports of chilled chicken from alternative sources, increasing the import of frozen chicken from existing non-Malaysia suppliers, or drawing from their stocks of poultry.

"While there may be temporary disruptions to the supply of chilled chicken, frozen chicken options remain available to mitigate the shortfall," the agency said, as it urged consumers to be open to alternative sources and to buy only what they need.

Source: CNA/gs

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