Malaysia poultry export ban: Food protectionism spreads with Malaysia poultry export ban

The Malaysian government has met with the country’s largest poultry producers to discuss subsidies and ensure continuity of local supply as the country moves to ban chicken exports as part of the latest food protectionist measure in the region.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries met with 12 growers and breeder groups on Monday, including Leong Hup Poultry Farm Sdn., HLRB Broiler Farm Sdn., PWF Corporation Bhd. and the Federation of Malaysian Livestock Associations, following a Cabinet meeting that discussed the ban.

Malaysia will halt exports of 3.6 million chickens per month from June 1 and investigate allegations of cartel pricing, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday. The move is expected to hit Singapore hard, which sources one-third from Malaysia, as well as Thailand, Brunei, Japan and Hong Kong.

The ban is the latest in a series of government measures aimed at lowering domestic prices as countries around the world grapple with rising food prices, in part due to the war in Ukraine which has weighed on food supply. Indonesia recently temporarily banned palm oil exports, India restricted wheat exports, and Serbia and Kazakhstan imposed quotas on grain shipments.

Singapore’s Food Agency said the restriction could lead to temporary disruptions in the supply of chilled chicken in the city-state and urged consumers to be open to switching to frozen chicken or other meat products. About 34% of Singapore’s chicken imports came from Malaysia last year, he said, with almost all being imported as live chickens and slaughtered and chilled in the city-state.

“While the chicken supply disruption is temporary, it may be manageable,” said Selena Ling, head of research and treasury strategy at OCBC Bank in Singapore. “But if it’s

and more worryingly, reflecting more protectionist measures taken by other countries regarding food security and inflation concerns, this could be a lose-lose scenario for everyone.

The Malaysian Competition Commission is investigating reports that there are cartels controlling the price and production of chicken among big companies, Ismail said, promising tough action against any company that sabotages supply.

“If it is true that these cartels exist, we will take legal action against them,” he said. State news agency Bernama reported there was a shortage of poultry locally as the cartels planned to shut down farming operations over the weekend.

Last week, Ismail abolished permit rules approved for imports of certain food items, including chicken, cabbage and evaporated milk, to ensure an adequate food supply in the country. Malaysia imports around 60% of its food needs and has been affected by rising import prices as well as the weakening of the ringgit.

Food inflation in Malaysia is expected to continue in the coming months amid high global commodity prices, domestic supply chain disruptions and local currency depreciation, MIDF researchers wrote on Monday. Amanah Investment Bank in a note. The country is highly exposed to global shocks in the food supply chain given its status as a net food importer, he said.

Farmers are already struggling with reduced weight gain of their chickens due to poor feed quality, as well as disease and extremely hot weather, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries. “This has affected chicken supply in some areas,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

In 2020, Malaysia exported poultry meat worth $18.9 million, making it the world’s 49th largest exporter of this product.

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