Trade and Industry Minister Mr Chan Chun Sing was at Changi Airport on Thursday (19 March) to receive a special delivery of 300,000 eggs flown in by Singapore Airlines from Thailand.
These eggs were imported in the wake of the Malaysia’s lockdown which begun on Wednesday (18 March) to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. The order, made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967, had border controls tightened by imposing prohibitions on both outbound and inbound travel.
Mentioned in a Facebook post on Thursday evening, Mr Chan notes that a quarter of the eggs that are consumed by the population are produced locally, while a significant amount imported eggs come from Malaysia.
Mr Chan added, “However, we also have many other source countries which we have identified over the years and are able to activate them quickly when the need calls for it. This applies not just to eggs but other food products and essential items.”
According to last published official figures in 2018, some 73 per cent of Singapore’s eggs are imported from Malaysia.
This import was said to have been facilitated by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore Airlines and SATS.
Mr Chan added, “Even though we have a robust plan in place, we do not take it for granted and reassess it regularly to test its robustness against different scenarios. This is how things have always been done in Singapore and will continue to guide our approach to all issues, big and small, going forward.”
Following his post, SFA shared the minister’s post, assuring consumers that the country’s food supply has not been rattled by Malaysia’s temporary lockdown.
“While our food supply is not affected by Malaysia’s Movement Control Order, we have activated our contingency plan to bring in eggs from alternative sources, to test out the process and build up a buffer stock,” the post said.
Separately, on Tuesday (17 March) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared in his Facebook post that the Malaysian Prime Minister has promised him that the flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia, including food supplies would continue.
The PM wrote, “Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and I discussed the situation on the phone today. I told him that I understood the reasons why he had made this move, and wished Malaysia success in containing the outbreak. I was happy to hear his reassurance that the flow of goods and cargo between Singapore and Malaysia, including food supplies, would continue.”
It is uncertain if there are other imports of eggs apart from the 300,000 imported eggs as Singapore with its population of 5.6 million, requires a huge number of eggs a day for consumption and production of goods, such as breads, confectioneries and noodles.
Back in 2018, a Straits Times report had a spokesman from Seng Choon Farm sharing how the farm produces about 600,000 eggs a day which was touted to be about 12 per cent of Singapore’s daily demand for eggs. This equates to about 5 million eggs a day.
Also back in 2004, price of eggs hiked after Singapore authorities banned all poultry products from Malaysia in the emergence of avian flu (H5N1) on a poultry farm in Kelantan.
While there were alternative sources for import, these were also more expensive and caused the price of eggs to rise sharply, spiking to 70 cents per egg at one point — almost three times the usual price at the time.