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Chicken shortage at some Singapore wet markets ahead of Jun 1 Malaysia export ban

Chicken shortage at some Singapore wet markets ahead of Jun 1 Malaysia export ban
Chicken parts on display at a stall in Pek Kio Market and Food Centre on May 26, 2022. (Photo: Jalelah Abu Baker)

SINGAPORE: Chicken seller Mohamad Zaidi ordered 150 chickens to serve his customers at Tekka Centre on Thursday (May 26) but received only 100.

The 39-year-old said that his Malaysian supplier of 20 years did not inform him of the shortage. 

Mr Zaidi, who sells only chicken and provides home delivery, had to cancel on one of his customers as a result. 

"I called one of the customers and said (we) cannot send because not enough," he said. 

The supply issue comes ahead of Malaysia's ban on the export of the poultry from Jun 1 to ensure that there is sufficient supply in the domestic market.

Singapore imports about 34 per cent of its chicken supply from Malaysia, almost all of which is brought in as live chickens that are then slaughtered and chilled locally.

Chicken sellers who spoke to CNA are facing a 20 to 70 per cent shortage. 

Another chicken seller at Tekka Centre, Mr Chua Boon Leng, ordered 100 chickens and received just 30 for two days in a row, he said. 

At another shop in Geylang Serai market, a seller who wanted to be known as Mr Lim said his fresh chicken was sold out by 9.30am and he continued to sell frozen chicken till he closed shop at about noon. 

Granted, he too had a shortage of 20 chickens, but this was far out of the norm, he said. 

"Usually, (the chickens) never finish, 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock, still got balance to bring over to the next day," he said. 

CUSTOMERS BUYING MORE 

Ms Milah Sheikh Mohd said that her wet market stall was "busy, busy" on Thursday, as customers snapped up more chickens in a bid to stock up. 

She pointed to a bag of chickens ordered by one of her customers for pick-up. 

It contained 24 chickens and parts worth S$394 to last a month.

One seller holding a bag of chicken and parts waiting to be picked up by a customer. (Photo: CNA/Jalelah Abu Baker)

Some other customers were also buying more than 10 chickens each, up from the usual two to three pieces, she added.

Mr Mohamud Faruk, who sells chicken, mutton and beef at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre, also said that business moved faster than usual. 

The 20 fresh chickens he orders on a daily basis were almost sold out by 11am. Typically, he would sell just two or three a day. 

The sellers said that frozen chicken is popular among eateries but not home cooks. 

Nevertheless, even the frozen alternative may be short in supply, they added. 

Mr Lim said that his stock of frozen chicken is likely to last less than a week. He also lamented the increase in cost, for both fresh and frozen. Frozen chicken, at about S$6 a kg, costs almost the same as fresh chicken now, he added. 

Mr Mohamud Faruk cutting chicken at his shop at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre. (Photo: CNA/Jalelah Abu Baker)

WORRY OVER WHAT'S TO COME 

Mr Zaidi said if the export ban - which currently does not have a timeline - lasts three weeks, it will be manageable. But beyond that, he would have to find a new job. 

"If totally zero (supply), (we) have to shut down. We are really worried about the income," he said, referring to himself and his business partner. 

He supports four teenage children while his business partner has five young children. 

Mr Chua, who has been running his poultry business for more than 40 years, said he would also have to shut if the ban persists. 

"No chicken how to sell?" he asked. 

However, 73-year-old Hashim Abbas, who has been in the business for 53 years, sounded optimistic. 

"My personal view is that it won't take longer than a month," he said, pointing to Singapore being an important source of business for Malaysian chicken suppliers. 

"There's nothing to be worried about," he said.

Source: CNA/ja(gr)

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