With chicken short, Singapore cries fowl!

If you thought the ban of wheat from India is beating some wheat-dependent countries into a dough, think about what the Malaysian ban of chicken exports is doing to chicken rice nation-city Singapore. A third of Singapore‘s chickens come from its northern neighbour. With the 3.6 million Malaysian murgey now confined to Malaysia – reportedly because of the rising cost of chicken resulting from the rise in cost of chicken feed that, in turn, has been caused by the war in Ukraine – Singaporeans are now scampering like headless chicken to get their regular dose of their staple dish. It’s like samosas becoming hard to come by for us.

Much of a nation’s favourite food has been a product not just of habit but also of cultural pride. While chicken is, of course, consumed in many forms in Singapore, the dish of chicken rice ‘getting hit’ is Singapore getting hit. Will Singaporeans shift to an alternative ‘favourite food’, say, pork rice or tofu rice? Normally, the duration of a food item ‘drought’ changes habit. Or is it the people’s ability to adapt? The man-made Bengal famine of 1943 didn’t see a shortage of rice make people shift their diet – they died. The shortage of bread didn’t make the dough of revolution in 18th-century France shift palates to, say, corn. Will Singapore break into chicken rice protests? Only the supply chain will tell.


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