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Asia Minute: Singapore takes a new approach to solve a chicken shortage

freshly butchered chickens Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Vincent Thian/AP
A seller prepares freshly butchered chickens at the Kampung Baru wet market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Consumers around the world have faced shortages of various products over the last two years. For several reasons, this summer in Singapore, there’s been a shortage of chicken. And that’s led to some adjustments.

If you follow events in Singapore, you’ve probably heard about the great chicken shortage.

In May, Malaysia’s government announced it would stop exporting chicken to Singapore.

Supply issues had pushed up domestic prices — and officials in Kuala Lumpur expressed concerns about the ability to meet domestic demand.

That put a halt to the shipment of approximately 3.5 million live chickens a month that would routinely travel over that short trade route — about a third of Singapore’s usual supply.

Then Indonesia applied for approval to export its chickens to Singapore.

By the middle of July, the first shipment of 50 tons of chicken was sent from Indonesia to Singapore — arriving in container ships — frozen.

And here the story takes a turn, because of what’s generally called Singapore’s national dish: chicken rice.

The preferred approach to making chicken rice involves live chickens, not frozen ones.

Malaysia has eased restrictions on some chickens — but the export of broiler chickens is still banned — and that’s the most popular type used in chicken rice.

So for now, frozen chickens are on the menu in Singapore — and Indonesian imports are on the rise.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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