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Economy 101: The Truth Behind Malaysia’s Chicken Shortage

Fried Chicken Food KFC

When it comes to meat protein, one of the best and healthier ones is sourced from fish and chicken meat but due to overfishing and sometimes weather, fish sold in the market is not cheap. So often we will turn to chicken especially freshly cut ones as the more affordable source for our protein source. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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CNA Documentary

Singapore-based CNA media channel came up with these 2 parts documentary identifying why there is a significant shortage of chicken which caused an export ban to the Republic.

Part 1 – Situation in Singapore

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Video caption: On June 1, 2022, a sudden move by Malaysia to ban chicken exports sent Singaporeans into a frenzy. Some of Singapore’s most beloved dishes feature chicken as the star ingredient, and Malaysia makes up about a third of the nation’s chicken supply. It left many reliant on frozen poultry from countries like Brazil.

Talking Point host Steven Chia unpacks the angst over the disruption to fresh chicken supply and explores whether the consternation is justified.

Part 2 – Situation in Malaysia

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Video caption: In the second of this 2-part special on the export ban, Rai Kannu travels to Malaysia to investigate the heart of the problem – why are farmers not producing enough chickens and what’s being done to stabilise supply so that exports can resume.

Some Root Causes

It was interesting to note the various root cause that causes the production output of chicken in Malaysia to be substantially reduced and thus cause the shortage of fresh meat, not only for Singapore but also for local consumption as well. Lower supply and higher demand for chicken ultimately drive the price up.

Shortage of Manpower

This is one of the biggest issues faced by many agricultural sectors in the country such as the palm oil plantation. Further, the setting of the minimum wages in the country to RM1,500 means higher production costs for these breeders. Of course, when the foreign workers left the country during the pandemic, their re-entry back to the country who have been hampered by the COVID19 regulations.

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High Cost of Poultry Feed

This is one of the biggest headaches for poultry breeders is the high cost of feed namely corn is mostly imported from overseas and feed amounts to the bulk of the production cost. The ongoing war in Ukraine is not helping to stabilise the chicken feed price so that the production cost will not spiral up. Ukraine is the 4th largest exporter of corn in the world after USA, Argentina and Brazil with almost USD5 billion worth of corn export.

Final Say

As seen from the 2-part CNA documentaries, it is not the end for the chicken supply to consumers in the Republic as frozen meat is still available in abundance in the local markets. However, as anyone who testifies, fresh meat will always taste better than frozen meat and we only go for frozen meat only when we have no other choice.

It is also interesting to note from the above documentaries, that there is an effort to do modern farming in Malaysia for local corns for poultry feed and modern poultry farming in a closed, environmental controlled building that improves the health of the chicken.

These, however, are costly for the time being but if they can meet the export market and enough economics of scale, the overall cost of farming should come down.

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