“Frozen chicken? You expect us to cook chicken rice using frozen chicken? It will not taste good.
“If that’s the case and you’re happy with that kind of quality, you might as well go to Malaysia and eat chicken rice there lah.”
According to CNN, this is what Singaporean hawker Madam Tong had to say regarding the country’s latest struggle – the ‘chicken rice crisis’, a result of an export ban placed on chicken products in Malaysia.
Rising feed costs caused chicken prices to surge in a sudden manner, prompting retailers to carefully ration and curb sales accordingly.
The final batch of live chickens arrived in Singapore on Tuesday, a day before the export restriction officially came into effect.
Citizens throughout the country, where chicken rice is considered a national dish, are now preparing to face the newfound shortage, which is expected to prevail for several months.
The wealthy but land-scarce island nation has depended on Malaysia for a third of its poultry imports for decades.
Each month, approximately 3.6 million primarily live chickens are imported.
Chicken rice enthusiasts have claimed that substituting frozen meat for fresh will not suffice, while traders predict that poultry prices will skyrocket.
Traders currently pay S$3 (RM9.59) for a whole chicken, but they anticipate prices to rise as supplies wane, and that rate could soon rise to S$4-5 (RM12.79- RM15.99) per bird.
“Every pinch hurts,” said Mohammad Jalehar, a chicken seller who manages a stall located within a wet market in the Bedok South district.
He also told CNN reporters that supplies were urging them to prepare for higher prices.
“One chicken now might cost a dollar more, but where will I get the extra money I need to buy 100 birds for sale? Will my customers also accept the costs?”
Most chicken rice merchants, including the esteemed Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice branch, are denying the possibility and preparing to close down altogether, as they fear that sourcing for substantial supplies of fresh meat may prove to be an impossible feat.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, grocers have raised the costs of chicken products beyond the initial ceiling price, marketing them at rates up to RM17 per kg.
The current ceiling price for chickens here is RM8.90 per kg, which was initially meant to remain effective from February 5 to June 5 which explains the frantic crowds of buyers at local markets and grocers, keen on stockpiling the staple meat items while prices are still down.
However, authorities confirmed earlier today that the ceiling price for chickens and eggs will be extended until June 30.
Rohanna Abdullah, a housewife in her sixties, told the Star that her local supermarket now charges RM17.90 for one kg of chicken.
“Earlier this year, RM17 could get me more than one kilo of chicken at the same supermarket but it’s just too pricey now,” she explained.
She also noted that in April, prices were already set at RM10.50 per kg at the Datuk Keramat morning market in Kuala Lumpur.
Deza Hussain, 52, also said that the price increase was not a recent affair, but had also risen above the ceiling price, from RM8.69 per kg earlier this year, to RM9.89 per kg this month.
The housewife, who has since cultivated the habit of growing vegetables at home to save money, believes the government should set the maximum price of chickens at RM7.80 to make them accessible to all.
Additionally, checks undertaken by The Star this week have unveiled that one kilo of chicken was sold for around RM10.50 at the Selayang market.
For now, some netizens seem to be able to find humour in the harrowing situation:
Everyone is a comedi-hen around here.