KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — The extension of the ongoing movement control order (MCO) to combat the Covid-19 pandemic has raised several problems, including the dwindling supply of pet food available in retail outlets.
One such company facing this issue is Pet World Marketing Sdn Bhd, whose chief executive officer Choy Peng Yew said their application to continue operations as an essential items supplier was rejected.
“We originally submitted our application last Wednesday (March 18) to the International Trade and Industry Ministry, but was informed yesterday evening that it fell through,” he told Malay Mail.
Despite the ministry’s classifying animal feed as an essential item whose manufacturers are permitted to continue limited operations, Choy said the wording as such remains vague.
“They merely told us we do not qualify as an essential category. I have yet to speak to my industry peers about this, but I assume they are facing a similar predicament,” he said.
As a result, Pet World Marketing, which produces the ProDiet and ProBalance pet food brands, has seen its importation and distribution supply chain severely disrupted. Choy said up to 95 per cent of his company’s pet food is imported, with its stocks currently stuck at shipping ports or near the entry point at the Malaysian-Thai border in Padang Besar, Perlis.
“When the MCO was first announced, it was not as worrying as we expected retailers’ pet food stocks to last throughout the two-week period. But the extension by another two weeks is a different thing altogether.
“Most major retailers like supermarkets or hypermarkets usually do not stock more than a month’s worth of pet food, and specialised pet shops are not allowed to operate during the MCO period,” he said.
Choy said the pet food industry as a whole is willing to compromise with the authorities, as they, like everyone else, understand the seriousness of stemming the Covid-19 virus from further spreading.
“If it is stipulated that the industry must operate with bare minimum personnel, that is to be expected as it is important to prevent Covid-19’s transmission chain. Speaking on our part, we would comply with limited distribution clauses.
“But the biggest problem is not for us but those owners who will be unable to purchase food for their pets. Pets are like family members, and should not be treated as such where they may be forced to eat scraps or even share human food,” he said, adding that he hopes the authorities will reconsider permitting pet food manufacturers and importers to operate as essential goods suppliers.
The MCO’s extension was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin earlier today, who also said the government will also reveal an expanded stimulus package next Friday to boost the country’s economy.
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