FairPrice has 4 months' stockpile of frozen chicken; no plans to limit purchase for now

FairPrice's stockpile of frozen chicken at its Fresh Food Distribution Centre on May 26, 2022. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - FairPrice has a stockpile of frozen chicken that can last for about four months, with another two months of supply on the way.

Ms Elaine Heng, FairPrice Group's deputy group chief executive officer, was speaking during a visit on Thursday (May 26) to the company's Fresh Food Distribution Centre in Upper Thomson Road.

Over the last few days, several wet markets and supermarkets saw their shelves cleared of fresh chicken as consumers rushed to stock up on the meat.

This followed an announcement by Malaysia on Monday (May 23) that it would halt the export of up to 3.6 million chickens a month from June 1, until domestic prices and production stabilise.

Asked by The Straits Times if FairPrice had any plans to limit the quantity of chicken or other protein products that customers can purchase, Ms Heng, who is also FairPrice's CEO for retail business, said the group is still observing the situation.

"At the current moment, what we've seen is that we're still able to replenish, and with the options of chilled and frozen (chicken)," she said.

But she added: "When the need arises, we will potentially consider this."

Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan, who was also visiting the facility, said there is adequate supply of chicken in Singapore, and urged people to refrain from panic buying.

Acknowledging that there will be some disruption to sales of chilled or fresh chicken, he noted that about 70 per cent of Singapore's chicken imports are in frozen form, from a variety of countries other than Malaysia.

"So I'd like to assure Singaporeans that we have an adequate supply of frozen chicken in Singapore."

He added that many importers and retailers had already pre-ordered chicken supplies, which are expected to arrive in the next couple of weeks.

"We're also working very hard with the industry and importers to source from other countries and sources of chicken to ensure we have continuation of supply. So I'd like to encourage every Singaporean to continue to purchase as per normal - there's no need to surge your purchase of chicken as there are adequate supplies," he said.

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Mr Tan said Singapore is also currently looking to other countries like Australia as an alternative source of chilled chicken.

He added that the authorities will work with businesses that can serve only chilled chicken, to see how they can be helped during this period if their businesses are affected.

Mr Tan was also asked whether there might be an increase in the price of fish here.

Malaysian media had earlier this week reported a rise in fish prices in Malaysian markets due to a lack of supply in the waters around the country.

Mr Tan said: "We have to diversify our sources - that's the strategy we've adopted for many years, and it's served us well today. So even if there's disruption for any specific country, we still have sources we can rely on."

Asked whether FairPrice would control the price of chicken, Ms Heng noted that the group had recently reduced the price of eggs and given a promotion on oil, despite rising food costs.

She said: "We have been looking at how we can absorb these costs... we are doing our best to take into consideration the current environment and to moderate the cost of living to the best of our abilities."

Mr Tan added: "We should from time to time expect that there will be some kind of disruption resulting from either geopolitical development, or even climate change. And therefore we have to be resilient, we have to be adaptable, and we have to stay calm and stay united. I'm sure we can ride through any challenges.”

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