Fresh food prices not affected by lockdown

A vegetable stall at a wet market in Marsiling Lane on March 18, 2020.
A vegetable stall at a wet market in Marsiling Lane on March 18, 2020.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

Food supply to Singapore and prices of fresh groceries have not been affected by Malaysia's lockdown that started yesterday, a key move by the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Fresh food associations and supermarkets contacted said supplies were not interrupted, and prices of vegetables, fruit and fish remained stable.

Mr Tay Khiam Back, chairman of the Singapore Fruits and Vegetables Importers and Exporters Association, said he does not expect the lockdown to disrupt supply chains from Malaysia.

"There have been no issues to worry about," he said.

Malaysia issued a movement control order on Monday that bars its citizens from travelling abroad until March 31, a move that affects more than 400,000 people who cross the land checkpoints daily.

Mr Lee Boon Cheow, former president of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, said: "We are still getting fish from Malaysia at the usual prices," he said. "Singapore also gets its seafood from various other countries such as China and Thailand, so I am not too concerned about the lockdown."

When The Straits Times visited some wet markets yesterday morning, stall owners said they had no problem getting fresh supplies, but a few fishmongers said their supplies had been halved.

A 43-year-old fishmonger at the Ghim Moh market, who wanted to be known as Mr Lee, said he received 30 per cent to 40 per cent fewer fish than usual.

"Some suppliers and their staff were not able to unload the fish here. It is more difficult for fresh food because we need the supply to come in on a daily basis," he said.

Prices at the markets have not risen, said consumers.

Madam Annie Lee, 55, said: "I was a bit worried that prices might go up, but it is still the same for tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables. Fish is a bit more expensive today, so I will not be getting any today."

A spokesman for Dairy Farm said of its Cold Storage and Giant stores: "We want to reassure our customers that our regular in-store prices have not increased."

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) affirms that the country's food supply is not affected by Malaysia's movement control order.

Its spokesman said that Singapore imports food, including eggs, chicken and vegetables, from more than 170 countries and regions. Should one source dry up, it will work with importers to tap alternative sources and ensure the food supply remains stable.

SFA has also been investing in local production to serve as a buffer when imports are disrupted.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2020, with the headline 'Fresh food prices not affected by lockdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe