Malaysia’s chicken export ban starts today

Singapore. Malaysia’s chicken ban announced last week (23 May) by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will start today.

The chicken export ban announcement is likely to impact Singapore. The country import about 34 per cent of its chicken from Malaysia in 2021. Aside from facing economic challenges due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict,  Singapore will be facing a new challenge – the rising costs and supply distraction of fresh chickens.

After the announcement, various news outlets in Singapore have shared the concerns of Singapore consumers and businesses.

But, how did Malaysia end up halting the exports of chicken?

Why is Malaysia halting chicken exports?

To address the nation’s rising chicken prices and shortage, the Malaysian government has decided to curb the export of up to 3.6 million chickens a month.

“The government’s priority is our own people,” said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Moreover, the Malaysian government added that they will investigate the allegations of cartel pricing.

How long will the halting of chicken export last?

There is no definite period for the chicken export ban. Based on PM Ismail, the chicken export ban will last until their domestic production and prices stabilise.

But, what’s the impact on Singapore, especially as the country’s national dish is chicken rice?

Chicken rice dish

What’s the impact of the chicken export ban on Singapore consumers?

According to Singapore Food Agency data, about 34 per cent (close to 73,000 tonnes) of chicken are imported from Malaysia in 2021, making Singapore one of the main export markets. Almost all bought are live chickens. These are then slaughtered and chilled in Singapore.

“The sudden announcement by Malaysia is likely going to have an adverse impact on the prices of chicken and related products in Singapore,” said the president of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) Melvin Yong on 24 May.

Moreover, various news outlets have shared stories following the announcements.

On 24 May, CNA reported that some of the stallholders in Singapore may close temporarily amid the chicken export ban. The curb will likely affect food retailers, especially where chicken is the main dish.

Moreover, on the same day (24 May), the Poultry Merchants’ Association said that prices of chicken are set to rise in the coming days.

Chicken importers in Singapore have also expressed their concern. In an interview with CNA on 24 May, the secretary of Singapore’s Poultry Merchants’ Association Ma Chin that it will be hard to find supplies from other countries on short notice.

A news report by TODAY on 31 May said that sellers are expecting that the supply of fresh chickens on wet markets may not last the week. Moreover, some sellers said that customers may expect higher prices for fresh chickens at wet markets.

On the other hand, last week (26 May) Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan assure us that there is enough supply of frozen chicken and no need to hoard. Mr Tan added that about 70 per cent of Singapore’s chicken imports from other countries are frozen. Moreover, authorities are working to diversify the food supply.

Is it time to switch to frozen chicken?

On 25 May, a report from CNA expressed the concern of eateries. Singapore eateries that specialise in chicken dishes said that they may use frozen chicken as a last resort or use alternative meat. However, they are worried about the food quality.

Amid Malaysia’s chicken export ban The Straits Times reported on 31 May that most shoppers are comfortable with frozen chicken or alternative meat.

First day of Malaysia’s chicken export ban in Singapore

A CNA news report said that some wet markets have well-stocked displays of fresh chickens and no queues or panic buying on the first day of the export ban.

The Strait Times reported that chicken sellers in Singapore are facing higher costs from suppliers and some of those who are dependent on Malaysian suppliers are halting operations for a month. Moreover, those chicken rice sellers are now preparing to sell frozen chicken once the fresh chicken supply is depleted.

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