Fish prices stable even after Malaysian ban

SINGAPORE - Malaysia's ban on the export of some types of seafood to Singapore has not led to price hikes so far, as previously expected.

Most supermarkets and wet market stalls here have maintained price levels.

The ban came after rough monsoon seas affected fishing activities. Anticipating a shortfall in supply, Malaysia prohibited the export of seven types of fish and Indian white prawns to Singapore until the end of February.

Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said supply is stable as importers have been sourcing from other countries.

The seven varieties - which include white pomfret, selar and kembung - made up less than 5 per cent of total fish imports here last year. In October, 330 tonnes of these varieties were imported from Malaysia, down from 390 tonnes in October last year.

Mr Lee Boon Cheow, 75, president of the Singapore Fish Merchants' General Association, said the ban had not raised wholesale fish prices here. On the contrary, they fell by 10 to 15 per cent last week because of low demand during this time of the year, with many people travelling abroad.

Supermarkets, including Sheng Siong, Giant and FairPrice, said prices had remained stable.

Mr Victor Chai, director of fresh and frozen products at FairPrice's purchasing and merchandising department, said its diversified sourcing policy had helped. Also, its supply from Malaysia is mostly from farmed sources.

Cold Storage said the affected varieties do not make up a big chunk of its seafood business, while Prime Supermarket said it gets these fish from Thailand.

Prices at wet market stalls are also stable. Said Mr Chan Ken Chuah, 40, a fishmonger in Toa Payoh: "Most of the banned fish are small varieties that are not that popular anyway."

Likewise, prices of vegetables have remained stable at FairPrice and Sheng Siong supermarkets despite wet weather in Cameron Highlands last month and a crackdown on illegal workers there.

At Prime Supermarket, prices of greens from Cameron Highlands even fell by 30 to 40 per cent last week, with tomatoes and cucumbers more than 40 per cent cheaper than in the week before.

Consumers here are not overly concerned about the ban. Said Ms Celine Tee, who is in her 30s and works in human resource: "We can choose other varieties or cut down on seafood. Singapore has a wide choice of food available."

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