Price fluctuations of staples should be expected amid global supply disruptions: Chan Chun Sing

Prices have not fluctuated as much as feared.
Prices have not fluctuated as much as feared.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans should expect some fluctuations in prices of supermarket staples due to global supply disruptions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Friday (June 5).

However, prices have not fluctuated as much as feared as Singapore had made early efforts to diversify its food import sources, Mr Chan told reporters at a media event.

Keeping prices relatively stable can be a tricky juggling act that requires anticipating supply disruptions months ahead, he noted.

Lower production of meat and produce can take three to four months to result in supply disruptions, which means that alternative sources must be obtained early enough that they arrive on time to moderate supply, said Mr Chan.

"What we are scanning the horizon for is not whether people are producing now," he said, but whether there will be disruptions three to six months down the line, taking in factors such as the weather and supply chain issues in source countries.

Stockpiling to ensure food security is thus a complicated process, as different items have different considerations, which adds to price volatility, he noted.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, home-grown food company Prima, which operates Singapore's only flour mill, has stepped up to help increase Singapore's stockpile of wheat and flour, he said.

"That fits into our long-term plan to have greater resilience in our stockpile and local production."

In a Facebook post later in the day, Mr Chan announced that Singapore had received its first shipment of eggs from Poland on Friday.

 
 

"This is another step forward in Singapore's efforts to diversify our supply sources and enhance the resilience of our food supplies," he wrote.

The Polish Embassy said in a statement that more than 40 containers of food, including eggs, frozen vegetables and fish, are scheduled to be delivered in June and July as part of a commitment by the two countries to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation amid the pandemic.

Other exports from Poland to Singapore include pastry, chocolate products, dairy, baking goods and preserves.

While such efforts will help to mitigate supply disruptions and price fluctuations, Singaporeans must not be complacent as global supply uncertainties are expected to continue for some time, Mr Chan said.

"We must be psychologically prepared for more disruptions and price volatility."

 
 
 

A spokesman for supermarket chain Sheng Siong said that prices for staples such as chicken have been stable over the past fortnight.

Prices of eggs have dropped, with a carton of 30 Heritage Farm eggs now retailing for $4.50, down 40 cents from two weeks ago, a spokesman said.

FairPrice also said prices of staple food items, including rice, chicken, eggs, fruits and vegetables, have remained stable in the past two weeks. 

“Nonetheless, we recognise we are in a very dynamic and rapidly evolving situation that could affect prices and supplies,” a spokesman said, adding that it will continue to work with suppliers from various countries to ensure a stable supply of daily essentials at affordable prices.

Additional reporting by Melissa Heng