PETALING JAYA: The chicken supply crisis will go away in a few weeks, but it has exposed structural problems which need long-term reforms, says an economist.
Geoffrey Williams of Malaysia University of Science and Technology said that although Malaysia’s export ban had caused a chicken shortage in Singapore, the problem was one for the republic, not Malaysia.
He said only 6% of Malaysian poultry are exported, although Malaysian chicken accounts for 33% of Singapore’s consumption.
Once the export ban was lifted, the market would be expected to return to normal, he said.
However, another economist said Malaysian poultry farmers could have lost the Singapore export market for good.
Carmelo Ferlito of the Center for Market Education said the export ban, in force from June 1, would deprive poultry farmers of their main export market and some producers could close, affecting local chicken supply.
In response to a report about a Singapore deal to import 10 times more chilled chicken from Thailand, Ferlito said: “While Malaysia plays a suicidal game, we can’t expect the rest of the world to sit down and wait for us. It is expected for them to look for chicken elsewhere.”
Williams said the chicken crisis had exposed structural problems in food production, distribution and trade, and lack of security.
He suggested the removal of all import permits for food and animal foodstuff, because high feed costs would be passed on to customers.
Anti-competitive behaviours should be uncovered and penalised through the Malaysian Competition Commission, he said.
Ferlito said that the government’s decision to set price ceilings and institute an export ban amounted to “punishment” of the poultry industry.
The two measures would worsen price tensions and prolong the process of adjustment between supply and demand, he said.