Indonesia exploring setting up farm in Batam to export fresh chickens to S'pore

Frozen chicken from Indonesia weighs about 2- 2.3 kg while those from other countries weigh about 1.5-1.6 kg. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE -  A new farm to supply fresh chicken to Singapore could be up and running in Batam if there is healthy demand over the next year.

Mr Suryo Pratomo, the Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, said on Thursday (July 21) that he has talked to some producers in Indonesia who are looking into setting up the farm.

They hope to have an understanding of the demand in Singapore by next year so that they can determine if they should set up a farm, he said. Issues like the size of the farm would have to be decided.

"If we can set up the farm in Batam, it will not take a long time to bring live chickens to Singapore," he added.

Last month, the director-general for animal husbandry and health at Indonesia's Agriculture Ministry, Dr Nasrullah, told The Straits Times that a team from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) was in Indonesia on June 14 to assess some farms, slaughterhouses and processing facilities.

Mr Suryo was speaking to reporters at Leong Hup Distribution's fully automated warehouse in Fishery Port Road, where the first shipment of frozen chicken from Indonesia arrived on Sunday.

Mr Suryo said the consignment of 50 tonnes of frozen chicken came from Jakarta. The Straits Times understands that they have already been sold out, with chicken rice stalls forming the bulk of the buyers.

More shipments are set to arrive in the weeks ahead.

Mr Suryo said he expects a total of 1,000 tonnes of frozen chicken to arrive in Singapore by the end of the year.

For comparison, Singapore imported close to 73,000 tonnes of chicken from Malaysia in 2021.

On June 30, the SFA approved Indonesia as a new source of frozen, chilled and processed chicken meat for Singapore, joining a list of more than 20 accredited countries such as Brazil, Thailand and Australia. Previously , Indonesia had exported only salted eggs to Singapore.

This came after Malaysia banned the export of whole chickens from June 1, in a bid to stabilise price and supplies in the country. Wet market poultry sellers in Singapore had to turn to selling frozen chicken.

Prior to the ban, 34 per cent of Singapore's chicken supply came from Malaysia, with most chickens imported live and slaughtered here.

Although Malaysia has since allowed exports of kampung and black chicken, the more common and affordable broiler chicken - which makes up the majority of Singapore's imports from Malaysia - remains banned.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment and Manpower , who was at the Leong Hup Distribution facility, said the authorities are monitoring the demand for Indonesian frozen chicken and will step up imports if needed.

Dr Koh Poh Koon (second from right) visited importer Leong Hup Distribution Pte Ltd to observe the arrival of the shipment on July 21, 2022. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Mr Alfred Leek, procurement director at Leong Hup Distribution, said the frozen chickens from Indonesia are bigger - 2kg to 2.3 kg - than those his company imports from United States, Thailand, Brazil and Argentina, which are about 1.5kg to 1.6 kg.

It takes four days for the frozen chicken to be shipped from Indonesia, compared to 30 to 60 days from the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

Mr Leek said that the batch from Indonesia is the first time frozen chickens are being brought in with the head and feet intact. "The industry now has a new option," he said.

Professor William Chen, director of Nanyang Technological University's food science and technology programme, said the chicken export ban from Malaysia has helped Singapore look for new sources more proactively.

He added: "Having frozen chicken from Indonesia opens a new supply source as Indonesia has not been a main supplier of chicken to Singapore so far."

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