Singaporeans are eating more eggs, and importers are looking at new sources from Ukraine and Spain to feed rising demands.
In Singapore, per capita consumption of hen eggs rose 17 percent from 2012 to 2019. Total hen egg imports grew by around 302 million pieces during the same period.
To meet this rising demand, importers are not only importing in greater quantities. They are also bringing in supplies from new sources as far as Europe to sustain the kitchens in this food paradise.
One such importer is Kai Young Huat Trading Pte Ltd. It was the first company to import eggs from Ukraine in 2019. For the company, it makes good business sense to add new suppliers other than traditional sources such as Malaysia and Thailand.
“Ukraine is a significant producer, is quite competitive in terms of pricing, and could meet our needs. The new source also allows us to offer more choices to our customers,” said Aloysius Lee, Manager of Kai Young Huat Trading Pte Ltd.
About a handful of other importers have also begun offering eggs from Spain since 2019.
Enhancing business resilience
Another veteran, Green-tech Egg Industries, also imports eggs from Ukraine— besides Malaysia, where it also operates its own egg farm.
“Having various sources ready to be activated is important for business continuity as we don’t want to be a sitting duck when incidents beyond our control crop up,” Ng Kong Guan, Managing Director of Green-tech Egg Industries said.
One such incident happened in 2004. The then-Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority imposed an import ban on eggs from Malaysia when the Bird Flu broke out there. This affected the operations of egg importers including Kai Young Huat Trading and Green-tech Egg Industries.
“Having various sources ready to be activated is important for business continuity as we don’t want to be a sitting duck when incidents beyond our control crop up.”
Ng Kong Guan, Managing Director of Green-tech Egg Industries
“We are glad to explore new accredited sources. We also saw opportunities to enhance our business resilience when SFA introduced the new licensing requirement. We took reference from SFA’s approved sources and decided to tap on our contacts to explore Ukraine as a supply source,” Lee said.
Lee was referring to the SFA policy where egg importers will only be granted licences when they submit business continuity plans prior to application or renewal. These plans could include strategies such as source diversification, establishing retainer contracts with alternate sources, or keeping a buffer stock.
An SFA officer (in blue shirt) checking on eggs that arrived from Ukraine
Besides supply disruptions, Green-tech Egg Industries, which has been in the poultry business since 1976, also sees market competition and food safety issues as challenges to overcome. It aims to continue to explore new sources and has plans to venture into ready-to-eat products.
Eggs in different baskets
Singapore imports up to 74 percent of the eggs it consumes (the remaining 26 percent is supplied by the three local chicken farms). Traditionally, imported eggs mostly come from Malaysia, followed by a small percentage from Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.
“We are glad to explore new accredited sources. We also saw opportunities to enhance our business resilience when SFA introduced the new licensing requirement. We took reference from SFA’s approved sources and decided to tap on our contacts to explore Ukraine as a supply source."
Aloysius Lee, Manager of Kai Young Huat Trading Pte Ltd
In the event of a disease outbreak such as Bird Flu, which is endemic to the region, thousands of fowls die or are culled as a result of it, thus posing a stress to the supply of chicken meat and eggs. Other unanticipated reasons, from geopolitics to climate change, also threaten to disrupt existing supplies.
To keep up with increasing demand and to secure a safe supply of eggs (or any food item) for Singapore, importers here have been urged to diversify their sourcing networks — import from as many different countries as possible. This is so that supply can remain stable, despite disruptions.
SFA plays a critical role by accrediting new sources of eggs for Singapore to import from. Eggs and their products can only be imported from approved sources in accredited countries that meet SFA’s food safety and animal health standards and requirements.
Over the last three years, the number of countries and farms approved for exporting eggs to Singapore climbed over 50 percent.
SFA’s Senior Director (Food Supply Resilience Division) Melvin Chow is encouraged that importers are heeding the call to diversify sources. “There is room to diversify further and more importers must play their part in ensuring Singapore’s food security. Consumers can also play their part in food security by being open and resilient to the different varieties of eggs, sources, and prices,” he said.
To support and encourage diversification, SFA leads strategic sourcing trips for our egg importers to explore new suppliers and establish business networks overseas. In addition, SFA has been assisting importers in their diversification journey, including providing a list of accredited sources for the industry to tap into, linking them up with freight companies, and helping them to seek support from supermarket chains.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020