Going extinct: Chicken rice in Singapore

Published date29 May 2022
Publication titleMalay Mail Online

Last week, Malaysia banned the export of chicken from June. Citing a shortage of chicken and rising prices domestically, the Malaysian government announced it would stop the export of chicken.

Singapore is the largest destination for Malaysian chicken exports and over 30 per cent of the chicken consumed in Singapore comes from Malaysia.

There are now fears that there will be a chicken shortage in Singapore as a result of the ban.

Even if Singapore is able to source more chicken from other nations, the price of chicken will almost certainly rise significantly as chickens will likely be imported from more distant destinations like Australia and Brazil.

This is part of the knock-on effect of Covid-19 related supply chain disruptions and the war in the Ukraine.

Covid related restrictions had already caused the cost of shipping to spike and deliveries to become less consistent.

The conflict in Ukraine meanwhile impacted grain exports from Ukraine and Russia, both large grain exporters. Grain is an essential part of animal feed so with supplies of grain diminishing, it is harder for farmers to rear and fatten as many chickens as they did before causing supply shortages around the world.

Malaysia's response to the shortage has been to restrict exports. While this might seem like a logical move, in the long term it's likely to do harm to both Malaysia and Singapore.

While it makes sense for Singapore to wean itself from Brazilian chicken, thus reducing the impact on the environment, Malaysia will always be our best import partner for poultry. - Picture by Devan Manuel

Exporting chickens to Singapore provides valuable revenue for Malaysian farmers and allows them to sell chicken more cheaply in the local market where the government imposes a ceiling price.

Without their export markets, many farmers will simply stop or reduce production. Which means Malaysia may not receive the extra chickens the government hopes for as a result of the ban.

In the long term Singaporean suppliers may be loath to return to Malaysian suppliers even after the ban - meaning it may be difficult for Malaysia to recapture a valuable dollar based export market.

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