TL;DR – No need to hoard or panic buy as supply is still assured by other egg importers and local egg farms.
Long-time readers here would know that the team here is quite obsessed with the Singapore Food Story.
We think this can be as chest-thumping success like our Singapore Water Story.
We want it to be.
Remember the times Mahathir would threaten, goad or joke about cutting our water supply? Remember when people laughed at us for coming up with Newater?
We ignored ’em all and pressed on.
In the aspect of water sustainability, Singapore has done very well. Foresight and planning has seen our nation able to enjoy a 70% self-sufficiency rate through recycled water making up 40% and desalinated water making up 30% of our consumption.
Back to the Singapore Food Story.
Did you know Singapore has topped the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) two years in a row?
Watch this interesting video of Singaporeans’ reactions to this news in street interviews!
Our very first Singapore Food Story article was written back in 2018 when Malaysia announced about stopping or limiting egg exports to maintain local market supply.
We first learnt then that Singapore imports over 70% of our eggs from Malaysia.
Oh mannnn…. we really need to diversify where we get our eggs! Over-reliance on a single source is obviously foolish and bad news.
Four egg importers stopped from importing eggs from Malaysia
We came across articles in Zaobao and TODAY yesterday that four egg importers/wholesalers, who together accounted for 30 per cent of Singapore’s total egg supply, had been blocked from importing eggs from Malaysia.
These four wholesalers had failed to meet a new licensing requirement that was put in place last April for diversifying their supply sources.
Both reports noted Singapore Food Agency’s statement that there is no need to hoard or panic buy as supply is still assured by other egg importers and local egg farms.
In an effort to ensure diversification of food sources, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) had updated the requirements for the renewal of import licences for egg importers last April, Renewal is subject to their business continuity plans (BCP), The BCPs are to safeguard or cushion against unexpected supply disruptions.
These four egg importers have failed to show their commitment to achieve or follow their BCPs. As such, with effect from 20th July, the SFA has not renewed their import licences to bring in eggs from the dominant source (Malaysia). They are, however, free to import from other sources.
According to TODAY, most importers who managed to get BCP approvals are importing at least 15 per cent of their eggs from other sources besides their dominant source. The SFA has said that the four egg wholesalers will have their import licences renewed or be granted concessions once they are able to show consistent efforts to comply with the BCPs.
Zaobao carried comments from the wholesalers, who acknowledged the intent behind diversifying egg sources, but shared their logistical difficulties handling chilled eggs, and that customers such as hawkers and market stall owners preferred fresh eggs.
Zaobao noted that business owners expressed hope that the authorities would consider their difficulties, and raise awareness amongst consumers so that they could accept chilled eggs.
According to both the media outlets, the four importers that did not manage to meet their BCP targets are Ming Kee Egg Supplies, Hup Seng Fresh Eggs Supplier, Premium Egg Products and Green-Tech Egg Industries.
Interesting information about egg supply in Singapore
- New licensing requirements from SFA started last April, and asked that egg importers to come up with business continuity plans (BCPs).
- This is a necessary move as over 70% of our egg supply came from just one country (Malaysia).
- Although the new licensing requirements came into effect from last April, SFA had given advance notice to the egg importers as early as January 2019, and they had until September 2019 to submit their BCPs.
- There are currently 36 active egg importers.
- SFA shared that 20 of these importers included diversification of egg supply in their BCPs. Importers can also choose to establish retainer contracts with alternate sources or keeping a buffer stock.
- The number of approved countries and egg farms has increased from 47 farms in seven countries in 2016 to 121 farms in 13 countries as of July 9.
- The number of eggs imported from alternative sources such as Poland, Ukraine and Thailand had increased from 1.4 per cent of total imports in 2018 to 14.4 per cent by May this year.
Our Singapore Food Story is a collective effort
Our Singapore Food Story is a collective effort. Everyone has a role to play.
For businesses like egg importers, they can start by working to improve and comply with their BCP to diversify egg sources. Other food businesses can also look at how to be more self-sufficient and sustainable.
As for consumers, we can start by taking a deeper interest in this. You can start by reading this excellent speech of the way forward for our Singapore Food Story.
Or you could read this 30 by 30 story that we’d written too.
So what else we do in our everyday lives to play a part in our Singapore Food Story?
For eggs, we can start by being more open-minded about buying eggs from sources other than Malaysia. Taste tests done have shown that ’em eggs taste just as good, and they’re priced affordably too! If there’s more positive response from us, the consumers, the egg importers will also have more confidence to bring in more eggs from different sources.
Other things we can also do include reducing food wastage, and #supportlocal!
Please look out for this local produce label when go supermarketing. As we nourish our loved ones, we also help to strengthen Singapore’s future.