Some Singaporeans fretted over their most widely consumed meat when Malaysian authorities imposed a ban on chicken exports on June 1 amid a shortage of the product. Exports were halted so that prices and supply in Malaysia could stabilise. Just over a third of the Republic's chicken supply comes from there, with most being imported live for slaughtering here. But the bird has remained on the menu, thanks to stall owners stockpiling chilled or frozen chicken. Local suppliers also did their part by bringing in more chickens to process when the ban was announced. They also explored alternative sources for chilled or frozen chicken, including from countries such as Thailand and Indonesia. Since then, Malaysia has partially lifted its ban, granting poultry producers and importers in Singapore some reprieve.
But the issue goes beyond the ban and beyond just chickens alone. It is one of food security. Droughts, heatwaves and wildfires, flooding, pestilence, soil erosion and water scarcity can all have adverse impacts on future crop productivity and continuity. Amid fears of declining supplies due to climate change and global conflicts, countries are racing to secure food for their own people. Some are resorting to protectionist trade policies, raising export quotas and taxes and banning the export of some items. These constrict the flow of food across borders and drive prices up.