SINGAPORE - A new farm to supply fresh chicken to Singapore could be up and running in Batam if there is healthy demand in coming months.
The Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Suryo Pratomo gave this update on Thursday (July 21) morning at Leong Hup Distribution's fully automated warehouse in Fishery Port Road where the first shipment of frozen chicken from Indonesia arrived last Sunday.
Mr Suryo added that he expects a total of 1,000 tonnes of frozen chicken to arrive in Singapore by year end.
Referring to the first batch, Mr Suryo said: "This is a consignment that has come from Jakarta, and we must see the (size of) demand from Singapore."
He added that he has talked to some producers in Indonesia who are looking into setting up the farm in Batam, and they hope to have an understanding of the demand by next year so that they can determine the size of the farm in Batam.
"If we can set up the farm in Batam, it will not take a long time to bring live chickens to Singapore."
The director-general for animal husbandry and health at Indonesia's Agriculture Ministry, Dr Nasrullah, told The Straits Times last month that a team from the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) had been in Indonesia on June 14 to assess some farms, slaughterhouses, processing facilities and other relevant aspects.
Prior to this, Indonesia had exported only salted eggs, totalling around 50,000 each month.
The Straits Times understands that the first batch of frozen chicken has already been sold out, with chicken rice stalls forming the bulk of the buyers.
Subsequent shipments are set to arrive in the weeks ahead.
Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment and Manpower Koh Poh Koon, who was also at the Leong Hup Distribution facility, said the authorities are monitoring demand for frozen chickens from Indonesia, and will step up imports if demand is positive.
Mr Alfred Leek, procurement director at Leong Hup Distribution, said that frozen chicken from Indonesia differs from those his firm has been importing from United States, Thailand, Brazil and Argentina.
According to Mr Leek, the frozen chicken from Indonesia weighs about 2kg to 2.3 kg while those from other countries weigh about 1.5kg to 1.6 kg.
He added that it takes 30 to 60 days for the meat to arrive from United States, Brazil and Argentina while it takes just four days for it to arrive from Indonesia.
Mr Leek said: "This is the first time that we are bringing in chicken with the head and feet intact. So the industry now has a new option. It also gives the consumer another option to choose in case of supply disruption. From the initial ground sentiment that we have gathered so far, we are really confident that the frozen chicken from Indonesia will be well received."
On June 30, the SFA approved Indonesia as a new source of frozen, chilled and processed chicken meat for the Republic, joining a list of more than 20 accredited countries such as Brazil, Thailand and Australia.
This came after Malaysia banned the export of chicken from June 1 in a bid to stabilise price and supplies.
According to SFA, 34 per cent of Singapore's chicken supply comes from Malaysia.
Although Malaysia has since allowed exports of kampung and black chicken, the more common and affordable broiler chicken - which makes up the majority of Singapore's imports from Malaysia - is still banned.
Professor William Chen, director of Nanyang Technological University's food science and technology programme, said that diversification of food sources has always been part of Singapore's national food security strategy, and that the current chicken export ban from Malaysia has helped the Republic to look for new sources more proactively.
Prof Chen added: "In this context, having frozen chicken from Indonesia opens a new supply source as Indonesia has not been a main supplier of chicken to Singapore so far."