‘Chicken and rice crisis’ as Singapore’s national dish hit by Malaysia’s export ban | New

Mohammad Jalehar was a teenager in the 1990s when he heard warnings of impending food and water shortages in Singapore.

“Every time our government clashed with that of Malaysia, we were told that there would be no more meat, fish or vegetables coming from Malaysia to feed our families. The water would also be cut off,” he said. he declared.

Now in his 50s, the chicken vendor who runs a stall with his wife at a wet market in the Bedok South district feels like history is repeating itself.

For decades Singapore, a land-rich but land-poor island nation, has relied on its nearest neighbor Malaysia for a third of its poultry imports. Every month, around 3.6 million chickens, mostly live, are exported to Singapore, then slaughtered and chilled.

But Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob last week announced drastic measures: his country would ban exports of live chickens to Singapore from June to tackle a domestic shortage that has driven prices up.

The ban is set to hit Singaporeans hard, not least because the city-state’s de facto national dish is chicken rice – and aficionados say replacing fresh meat with frozen simply won’t be enough.

And while the Singapore government has given insurance there will always be more than enough chicken for everyone, traders say poultry prices will rise sharply. Currently, traders are paying $3 for a whole chicken, but they expect prices to rise as stocks dwindle and that price may soon increase to $4-5 per chicken.

“Every pinch hurts,” Jalehar said. “Suppliers tell us to prepare for higher prices. A chicken may now cost a dollar more, but where will I find the extra money I need to buy 100 chickens to sell? Will my customers also accept the costs? »

The “chicken-rice crisis”, as it was doubleis just the latest sign of food shortages around the world. The Russian invasion of UkraineCovid-related supply chain issues and extreme weather conditions are all contributing to shortages and driving up prices.

In the United States, Asia and Africa, potato shortage have caused fast food restaurants to run out of products like french fries and fries.

In Malaysia, rising feed costs have pushed up chicken prices in recent months and retailers have rationed sales in response.

With the last live chickens from Malaysia arriving in Singapore for slaughter on Tuesday, the city-state is now bracing for its own shortage, which could last for months.

Chicken vendors in Singapore said customers were trying this week to get ahead of the impending ban by buying in bulk, but vendors faced shortages while trying to replenish their stock.

Elderly chicken seller Ah Ho and his son Thomas, 58, said the price of chicken had already been high for some time. “The chicken selling business has been on the brink for months, so it’s nothing new for us,” Ho said.

Their chicken stall was out of stock, and even less popular items such as gizzards were sold out. “Our fate is now in the hands of suppliers and how much they want to raise prices to generate profits,” Thomas said.

For father and son, who have been in the business for over three decades, survival has always been tough – but now it’s about to get tougher.

“No one knows what will happen next month, or how long this shortage will last, but with the way it is shaping up, it may finally be time for us to throw in the towel and close up shop,” Thomas said.

“Chicken-Rice Crisis”

Fears of a chicken shortage were also evident in the countless queues forming at chicken rice stalls across Singapore.

The owners of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, one of the most popular restaurants on the island, said that if they continue to serve chicken rice, they will stop serving other chicken dishes if they couldn’t get fresh meat.

At Katong Mei Wei’s boneless chicken rice stand, another popular destination for foodies on the island, loyal customers like Lucielle Tan were getting their chicken fix before the ban.

“We have to take advantage of it while we can, while the stocks last,” Tan said.

While a short-term solution might be to import more frozen chicken from countries like Thailand and Brazil, for the legions of chicken rice vendors across the island, that’s just not an option. .

“Frozen chicken? Do you expect us to cook chicken rice with frozen chicken? It won’t taste good,” said street vendor Madame Tong with a laugh.

“If so and you’re happy with that kind of quality, you might as well go to Malaysia and eat chicken rice there. the H.”

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