Singapore has plans for alternative sources if Malaysia limits egg exports: AVA

Eggs in a carton. (FILE PHOTO: Getty Images)

Although eggs imported from Malaysia make up nearly three quarters of Singaporeans’ egg consumption, Singapore has plans in place to acquire eggs from elsewhere should Malaysia stop or limit its egg exports.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) made this reassurance in a media statement on Thursday (13 December), after Malaysia’s Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said on Monday that the country was looking into limiting, or stopping, the export of eggs.

Supplies unaffected for now

AVA said that supplies remain unaffected for now, and added, “Our importers are still getting their usual egg supplies from Malaysia. Nevertheless, in line with our overall food diversification strategy, we have a wide range of alternative sources for our eggs, including our local farms.”

According to the authority, about 73 per cent of Singapore’s eggs are from Malaysia, with around a quarter being produced here. Less than 1 per cent of eggs in Singapore are imported from accredited farms in Thailand, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

The average Singaporean eats 308 eggs a year, according to statistics from the AVA last year.

Egg prices on the rise

Saifuddin had explained that the plan to limit egg exports was to ensure a sufficient supply for the domestic market. He was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying, “We will study if stopping the export is reasonable or not, even if it is for a short term. If it helps to reduce the price of eggs and benefit the people, we will definitely look into it.”

He said there was a change in the average price of chicken eggs between mid-last month and this month, when it rose consistently every week in the retail market in Malaysia. Checks had been carried out nationwide at the production, distribution and wholesale stages to find out the cause of the price hike.

Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported earlier this month that the wholesale price of an egg in Singapore had jumped from 10 cents in April to 16 cents this month. The report also forecast that prices would continue to rise, particularly with a salmonella outbreak in an egg farm in Yong Peng, Johor.

Previous supply disruption was in 2004

Singapore’s egg supply was previously disrupted in 2004, when the AVA imposed a ban on all poultry products from Malaysia after an outbreak of avian flu (H5N1) on a poultry farm in Kelantan. At the time, Malaysia supplied two thirds of Singapore’s eggs.

Although there were also alternative sources for import during the 2004 supply disruption, they were more expensive – the price of eggs spiked to 70 cents per egg at one point, almost three times the usual price then.

Even now, alternatives to Malaysian produce, such as eggs from Australia and New Zealand, also tend to be significantly more expensive. A box of 12 cage-free Australian eggs costs $6.70 on online retailer RedMart, while a carton of 30 eggs from Pasar, a Malaysian brand stocked at FairPrice, costs $5.50.

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