Post-lockdown, fresh produce from Malaysia still arrive largely on time in Singapore

Suppliers of fresh produce at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre continued to receive their daily imports of vegetables and fruits from Malaysia March 18, 2020. — TODAY pic
Suppliers of fresh produce at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre continued to receive their daily imports of vegetables and fruits from Malaysia March 18, 2020. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, March 18 — It was business as usual for suppliers of fresh produce this morning, as truckloads of fruits and vegetables streamed into the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, some from Malaysia, even after the country’s nationwide lockdown took effect at midnight. 

With the exception of slight delays of up to an hour for some, batches of produce from Malaysia arrived at the wholesale centre as scheduled, suppliers told TODAY. 

This is in line with what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Facebook yesterday, that the flow of goods, including food supplies, were to carry on as per normal during Malaysia’s lockdown, which lasts until the end of the month. 

Tan Shu Qing, 38, a sales manager at Chit Huat Pte Ltd, which supplies fruits to supermarkets, said that her company’s morning deliveries of fruits from Malaysia came on time. 

“Usually we have seven to nine truckloads of imported fruits each day and 70 to 80 per cent of our fruits come from Malaysia,” she said. “The batches that came from there arrived on time at around 4am to 5am this morning.”

“We are also worried on the harvesting front, whether it might be affected, as usually a lot of people are needed to harvest,” she said. “But we checked with our Malaysian suppliers and they said that harvesting at the plantations and transport of the vegetables back to the warehouses were not affected and the process is going smoothly.” 

The company had also imported three extra truckloads of fruits such as melons to be stored in a cold room in the morning and afternoon yesterday just in case fruit deliveries would be affected this week, but the assurance from the Prime Minister that food supplies would not be affected by the lockdown gave them some relief, she said.

Vincent Lim, 38, the director of Lim Kok Tiong Veg Supplies, which supplies vegetables to restaurants in Singapore, said that usually, two batches of produce from Malaysia would arrive at the wholesale centre. 

“The batch that usually arrives at midnight was delayed by an hour,” he said. “But the second batch that usually arrives at 7am in the morning came on time, so nothing seems to have been affected.”

“In fact, I think the deliveries will be even more smoother now that the traffic (on the causeway) is less heavy, due to fewer passenger cars on it.”

Ong Kwang Chuan, 51, the manager of Friendly Vegetarian Food Supplier, said that his two truckloads of dried and frozen food deliveries from Malaysia arrived on the dot. He added that he was initially worried that delivery drivers might need to be quarantined, but was glad to see that they were not. 

“The drivers just came here, unloaded the goods and drove off,” he said. “They did not need to be quarantined here and could go back.”

He added that even if deliveries from Malaysia were affected, his company has diversified its sources of supplies, so a shortage of produce is unlikely. 

“We import about 30 per cent of our food from Thailand and 70 per cent from Malaysia,” he said. “So there would definitely be enough food for all.”

But while food supplies are still coming in as per normal, Tai Seng Yee, 37, the executive director of Zenxin Agri-organic Food, said that he expects some non-food supplies to be disrupted.

“Since most factories are closed in Malaysia, except those related to food, my Malaysian contacts are pushing for the Government to allow more factories to open, such as those that manufacture plastic packaging. There’s still a lot of uncertainty on this front,” he said. — TODAY

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