SINGAPORE - Though they have pushed on with the business by selling chicken from other countries, poultry sellers in Singapore are still eager for the Malaysian chicken export ban to end.
Most poultry sellers at four markets The Straits Times visited on Thursday (July 7) said that they are looking forward to Malaysia lifting the export ban on commercial broiler chicken as there is still demand from their customers for the product. Malaysia partially lifted the ban last month, allowing exports of kampung chicken and black chicken.
Some wet market poultry sellers have experienced a dip in business even after they pivoted to kampung or frozen chicken. This is despite recent efforts to diversify Singapore's chicken supply, such as increasing imports from Thailand and the impending imports from Indonesia.
Mr Abdul Rahman, 62, owner of Fresh & Frozen Meat Supplier at Rivervale Plaza, said sales have dropped by about 30 per cent since the ban, as customers still prefer chicken from Malaysia.
He said: "Now, we are selling frozen chicken from Brazil. We don't have any other chicken to sell. Some customers don't like the frozen chicken, and they still ask for the fresh chicken."
Over at Geylang Serai Market, Mr Hashim Abbas, 73, owner of Hashim Abbas Supplier of Fresh & Frozen Chicken & Meat, said he now sells frozen chicken from Brazil and Thailand, and kampung chicken from Malaysia.
Overall, prices at his stall have increased by about 50 cents per kg of chicken and this has led to a drop of 50 per cent in sales.
Madam Roslina Onm, 55, owner of Jaafar Fresh and Frozen Chicken at Geylang Serai Market, said that though business has been stable as most of her customers are willing to accept chicken from other sources, she still hopes for the ban to end soon.
She said: "We are excited for the chicken to come back from Malaysia because many customers prefer it. We don't have a choice now but to sell the frozen chicken. But fresh chicken is nicer."
Malaysia imposed a ban on chicken exports from June 1 due to a shortage in the country. Exports were halted so that prices and supplies there could stabilise.
While kampung chicken and black chicken from Malaysia are now available in Singapore, commercial broiler chicken - which makes up the majority of Singapore's chicken imports from Malaysia - is still banned.
According to the Singapore Food Agency, 34 per cent of Singapore's chicken supply comes from Malaysia, with most chickens imported live and slaughtered here.
Hawker stalls that sell mainly chicken dishes have also been affected by the export ban. Chicken rice stall owners that ST spoke to said they have had to increase the price of their dish by 50 cents to $1 to continue making a profit.
Ms Xu Haixia, 42, who owns Teck Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice at Kovan 209 Market & Food Centre, said a plate of chicken rice from her stall now costs $4.50, up from $3.50.
She said: "Prices have been adjusted upwards due to supply constraints for frozen chicken. Business has also decreased because the taste of frozen chicken is different."
A check with supermarket chains here found that chicken supply has remained stable.
A spokesman for FairPrice said it is working with the authorities and its partners to bring in chicken supplies from Indonesia. The spokesman added: “We will continue to expand our network and grow our food sources to provide more options for our customers.”
A spokesman for Sheng Siong noted that the approval of Indonesia as another source of supply for chicken meat will enhance its diversification efforts and said that its stocks of frozen chicken “remain robust”.
Consumers ST spoke to said they have been buying less chicken, and now buy more fish or other meats instead.
Senior property officer Affandi Junaidi, 51, said that while he used to buy fresh chicken that came from Malaysia, he has since swopped to frozen chicken and does not mind which country it comes from.
He said: "If Singapore can get alternative sources for chicken they should leverage it. It makes no difference to me if the chicken is from Indonesia."
- Additional reporting by Elijah Wong and Sabarna Manoharan