SINGAPORE: Singapore has begun importing frozen shrimp from Saudi Arabia, a move that will lay the foundations for more food imports and exports between the two countries, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (Nov 25).
“Prior to this, I think very few of us would have thought of importing shrimp from Saudi Arabia. It's not something that comes to mind,” he said, while speaking on the sidelines of a visit to a Fairprice Xtra supermarket outlet at VivoCity.
“But now that we know that this can be done, and it can be done in a very price-competitive manner, then we are able to explore with the Saudi embassy and Saudi suppliers what other products (they) can offer.”
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In turn, these suppliers have seen products from Singapore and the region that they can take back to Saudi Arabia, using the ships’ worth of containers that they bring in, Mr Chan said.
Adding Saudi Arabia to Singapore's list of food sources comes as part of the island's continued push towards food source diversification.
“(Having more sources) will give us many more options to flex as and when contingencies happen in different parts of the supply chain,” said Mr Chan, calling supply management “a bit of an art and science”.
Responding to a question on whether the carbon footprint of such imports is a consideration, he said: “To the average Singaporean, I think the most important thing is the price and the quality.
"And as we explore new supply lines, what is amazing is that we’ve been able to … bring in the products at about relatively the same price.”
He added that the transport needed for long distances is accounted for in prices, so “if the market signals that prices are still competitive, it means (they) have taken care of all these things”.
Mr Chan also said that the carbon footprint does not depend on distance alone and that the logistics system must be “looked at in entirety to see how to achieve economies of scale, bring the carbon footprint to the lowest and bring prices to the lowest".
The Saudi brand Red Sea Shrimp is currently only available at NTUC FairPrice supermarkets.
However, its distributor, The Seafood Company, hopes to eventually expand sales to other chains as well.
The company said the shrimp have a better taste and texture because they are farm-grown in the Red Sea, which has a higher salinity compared to seawater from other parts of the world.
Calling the import a "success", the firm's managing director Kenneth Chia said the firm has brought in 60 tonnes of shrimp since launching the brand in Singapore three months ago.
It is on track to hit 120 tonnes worth of shipments by the end of the year, he added.