'Chicken-Rice Crisis' In Singapore As Malaysia Bans Export
Image Credit: Pexels; a rice chicken meal

Winner winner chicken dinner! Not any longer, as Singapore’s all-time favourite ‘chicken and rice’ meal is caught in the crossfire of Malaysia’s latest austerity measure. Be it at home or at eateries lining the streets, a plate of rice cooked in stock, poached chicken, some greens on the side and a chilli dip constitute the staple meal for 5.5 million people in Singapore.

Owing to a shortage in the production and supply of meat in Malaysia, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob recently has announced plans to withhold the monthly exports of 3.6 million chickens to Singapore. The new rule - which will come into effect from June 1, 2022 - is expected to help stabilise supply and price rise in Malaysia. By announcing the ban, Malaysia becomes the latest country to go in favour of ‘protectionist food policies’. 

The move, however, has sent shockwaves through households and restaurant chains in Singapore. The island nation currently depends on Malaysia for a third of its poultry imports, and the ban is said to have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on their de-facto national dish. According to local vendors, it will be a situation like ‘McDonald’s with no burgers’. They are dreading that the acute shortage will lead to price hike, while they will have to compromise on quality. In the absence of live poultry, they will have no way out but rely more on frozen chicken, meaning deterioration in the quality of the dish they serve and poor sales performance.




Blame the ban, traders are poised to bear the brunt of the situation as sharp price rise is predicted for the coming weeks. Some $3 is currently being paid by them for a whole chicken, but as stocks reduce, the rate may shoot up to $4-5 per bird. The announcement by the Malaysian premier comes just months after Indonesia decided to put a ban on palm oil exports. However, it was lifted soon after. 

Despite being one of the most popular destinations in the world, Singapore has more urbanised locales than agrarian land, due to which the country has to depend heavily on other nations for food, energy and other resources. Data released by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) showed that the city-state gets 34% of its chicken supply from Malaysia, while Brazil covers 49% and the US accounts for 12%.

Priced at about S$4 (about ₹227), the chicken and rice meal is also a daily source of protein for the local people. But keeping in mind the scarcity of chicken that is bound to happen in the coming weeks, authorities are already urging people to opt for fish and other alternative meat as a source of protein. Many eateries in Singapore are reluctant to use frozen chicken and are instead planning to put dishes like fried tofu, prawn salad and fried pork chop back on the menu. 

This, however, is not a standalone situation. The Covid-19 pandemic, Russian invasion of Ukraine, extreme weather conditions and other global issues have adversely affected supply chains and led to severe food shortages, and the ‘chicken-rice crisis’ is the latest to crop up. Did you know, the shortage in potato supplies is already causing a crunch among fast food chains in Asia, Africa and the US. Back home, the heatwave saw India restricting wheat and sugar exports, as domestic prices witnessed a hike.