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Kampung chicken back at wet markets at higher prices, stallholders say some customers still willing to pay

Kampung chicken back at wet markets at higher prices, stallholders say some customers still willing to pay

A poultry stall at Tiong Bahru Market on Jun 15, 2022, selling kampung and black chickens. (Photo: CNA/Ang Hwee Min)

SINGAPORE: Fresh chicken was back at some wet market stalls on Wednesday (Jun 15) after Malaysia partially lifted its export ban, allowing live kampung and black chickens to be brought into Singapore. 

Stallholders that reopened to sell only those types of chicken said they had to raise the prices of kampung chicken by about S$3 per kg because of cost increases by suppliers.

When CNA visited the Clementi 448 Market and Food Centre on Wednesday morning, two of the three poultry stalls were open, selling kampung and black chickens. 

“I had to raise prices because my suppliers also raised prices. How could I not?" said the owner of Sin Heng Poultry Stall, who only wanted to be known as Ms Tan.

“Some of them will complain about it being expensive, but the customers who want fresh chicken are still buying.” 

Ms Tan closed her stall last week after selling the last of her supplier’s stock of chilled chicken following Malaysia’s ban on chicken exports on Jun 1. She managed to get about 20 chickens for sale on Wednesday. 

“I will reopen the stall if there’s something for me to sell,” she told CNA. 

Poultry importers in Singapore started bringing in kampung and black chickens again on Tuesday after Malaysia eased its export ban.

According to a letter from the Department of Veterinary Services of Malaysia, exports of poultry products such as nuggets or hotdogs are also allowed to resume. 

However, the ban on commercial broiler chicken remains. These are the larger birds that make up the bulk of the chickens Singapore usually imports from Malaysia.

The letter did not specify the quantity of live kampung and black chickens that will be available for export.

VARIETY OF PRODUCTS TOO SMALL

A few doors down from Ms Tan, a stallholder who only wanted to be known as Mr Ma said that even before the chicken export ban started, prices of broiler chickens had already increased to about S$10 per kg from about S$8 in May. 

He noted that currently, the price of one kampung chicken can go up to S$19, depending on its weight.

“Because the chickens haven’t been arriving for two weeks, they had more time to grow, the chickens I received are much bigger than usual. It’s hard to sell them because customers run away after hearing that one chicken is S$18 or S$19,” said Mr Ma. 

“If they're going to continue being this big, I might tell my supplier I don’t want to sell them,” he added, noting that most vendors sell kampung chicken as a whole bird. 

Even though kampung chicken is more expensive than regular broiler chicken, most of his regular customers have accepted the difference, said Mr Ma. 

In the past two weeks since the export ban, he opened the stall about two to three times a week, selling locally supplied frozen chicken. 

But other stalls have chosen to close temporarily.

“There’s too little product variety, that’s why the stall next door is still closed. We’re just selling whatever we can get, it’s just enough to get by,” Mr Ma said.

“To close the shop and stop selling chicken wouldn’t be right, but to sell a very small amount and variety is also hard.” 

KAMPUNG CHICKEN VS BROILED CHICKEN

Mr Prithwish Bose, a regular customer of Sin Heng for the past two years, was among those who bought kampung chicken on Wednesday morning. 

It was his choice of chicken previously before he switched to broiler chicken because of the price hikes. 

“The normal chicken is as good as kampung. And these kampung chickens are also caged, not free-range,” he added. 

“All the way I’ve been buying kampung chicken ... I never thought it would taste the same. But now, I think I will go back to normal chicken when it becomes available again,” he told CNA. 

Mdm Yeo Ah Kiang, a housewife who bought kampung chicken from Mr Ma’s stall, said she buys different types of chicken depending on what she plans to cook for the week. 

“There was only kampung chicken available today so I bought it,” she said, adding that the price increase is acceptable as long as it is not drastic. 

“I haven’t had chicken in two weeks. I ate fish or other things since I couldn’t buy fresh chicken. I rarely buy frozen chicken, I don’t think it’s as good.” 

FIRST DAY OF REOPENING

It was a similar situation at Tiong Bahru Market. Just two poultry stalls had reopened when CNA visited on Wednesday morning.

Mdm Huang, who runs Swee Heng Fresh Chicken/Duck, was closing up shop by about 9.30am. She said she managed to get about 30 birds for sale on Wednesday and had sold everything. 

When Malaysia's export ban kicked in, she managed to keep her stall open until Jun 3 with chilled chicken. Wednesday was the first time she reopened since then, selling kampung and black chicken. 

“A lot of customers wanted to buy the kampung chicken. But everyone said it was very expensive,” said Mdm Huang with a chuckle. 

The price of kampung chicken at her stall is about S$14 per kg, up from S$11 per kg previously. 

“There are some customers who have only bought kampung chicken all this time, so they continue to buy it. There are others who come looking for normal chicken, but there’s only kampung chicken so they only buy a little bit since it’s more expensive," she added.

Most of the poultry stalls in Tiong Bahru Market remain closed, said Mdm Ow Siew Yan, who runs another fresh chicken stall in the wet market. 

“Malaysia said there would be no exports for a month, so a lot of stallholders here closed shop and decided to go on holiday for a month. But now suddenly they’re saying we can bring in kampung chicken,” she said. 

Her team decided to reopen the stall because most of their regular customers buy only kampung chicken, she added. The stall had also been closed since Jun 3. 

“We actually sell less normal chicken than kampung chicken on a normal day,” Mdm Ow said, noting that they managed to get 60 kampung chickens and 10 black chickens for sale from their supplier. 

“I feel a bit more relaxed because there’s less to do. When we sell broiled chicken there’s a lot of cutting to do, but for kampung chicken, you sell the whole bird,” she added. 

“I think if you’re good at cooking there’s no difference between normal broiled chicken and kampung chicken. It’s both tasty if you can cook.” 

Source: CNA/hw(gs)

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