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Singapore eateries try new recipes, switch to local produce amid supply disruptions

As rising costs and shortages continue to hit fruit and vegetable suppliers, eateries have been forced to change their menus.

Singapore eateries try new recipes, switch to local produce amid supply disruptions
Suppliers said it is becoming tougher to fill their stock orders from exporting countries. (Photo: Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: More restaurants in Singapore are shaking up their menus, from trying new recipes to switching to locally grown produce, as rising costs and shortages continue to affect their supplies. 

Some fruit and vegetable distributors have experienced a 30 per cent drop in supplies from exporters. Prices for these items have also tripled. 

Mr Desmond Lim, marketing manager at Lim Thiam Chwee Food Supplier, pointed to how some countries have yet to fully open up since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

"They are still having a lot of intermittent lockdowns, workers not going to work or not being able to work, and entire companies being temporarily suspended,” he added. “So that has resulted in a lot of shortage of manpower in the exporting countries."

Such supply chain disruptions will not go away anytime soon, said Mr Lim.

“All we can do is to embrace what it is, work with what we have and adapt accordingly.”


One particular item that has been in shortage is chilli padi.

Mr Lim’s firm has only been able to get half of its usual supply of chilli padi - and at triple the cost. 

Thailand, where it mainly gets its chilli padi from, is grappling with a labour crunch and rising prices of fertiliser, said Mr Lim, adding that he foresees these problems continuing till the end of the year. 

Some players in the restaurant scene have had no choice but to absorb the resulting higher costs or to make changes to their menus.

Hug Cafe, a Thai eatery in Alexandra Road, has had to rethink its menu, after reducing its order of papayas by 20 per cent to keep overheads down.

Mr Brendon Lim, a chef at the cafe, said its Thai supplier makes limited trips to Singapore. 

“So, we can only order this much per week because if we order too much, the vegetables will turn bad or the papayas will ripen because we do use raw papayas for papaya salad,” he added. 

If an ingredient is unavailable, the cafe will adjust its menu, said its chef Mr Lim.

“We brainstorm from time to time. Of course, these challenges cannot be avoided. So, we would want to have different alternatives to every dish we make.”


Another restaurant, Cinder Steakhouse at Seletar Aerospace Park, is facing similar issues. 

For some weeks now, they have only been able to get half their orders of tomatoes and herbs.

Sometimes, they do not get their supplies.

But the steakhouse’s chef de cuisine, Mr Steven Teo, remains unfazed. 

His team works with the items that are available: For example, if they run out of asparagus for a dish or if the quality is bad, the restaurant will replace the vegetable with something else such as broccolini, said Mr Teo.

Mexican restaurant Super Loco has resorted to sourcing for ingredients from vegetable farmers locally, instead of tweaking its menus or swapping out ingredients.

Super Loco Group executive chef Randy Torres said: "We have tried to put more emphasis on using menu items that have locally sourced products.”

The restaurant is also finding ways to work with local growers to ensure that its fruit and vegetable supply remains secure.

Source: CNA/ca(ja)


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