As country heads into extended shutdown, supply of essential items remains sufficient

Opalyn Mok, John Bunyan, R. Loheswar And Julia Chan
Customers shop for vegetables at the Taman Selamat Wet Market in Bukit Mertajam March 25, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, March 26 — Food items such as poultry, eggs, fish and vegetables are still in sufficient supply in numerous wet markets surveyed in Penang, Petaling Jaya, Ipoh and Sabah yesterday, as Putrajaya announces an extension of the movement control order (MCO).

In Penang, farms and slaughterhouses are producing around 20,000 dressed poultry for wet markets in the state, with Penang Island City Council (MBPP) Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang saying poultry farms have given their assurance that they will have more than enough supply.

“Even all of the supermarkets and hypermarkets have given reassurances that they have a sufficient supply of essential items,” he told Malay Mail.

A check at a number of wet markets in Seberang Perai and on the island showed that there was no shortage of food items at all fresh produce stalls.

“Our business has dropped a lot this past week. The problem is not a lack of supplies. We don’t have enough buyers to clear our stock,” one of the vendors, who declined to be named, said.

A hypermarket here, which had stocked up all of its essential items, said that it had an oversupply of whole chickens.

“Our business dropped in the last week and we still have a lot of stock, even today. We have very few customers,” one of the hypermarket staff said.

Meanwhile, in Petaling Jaya, vegetable seller S. Kunasegaran at the Old Town Wet Market here said traders have stock to last until March 31.

“We have enough stock. No need to worry about coming over and rushing to buy everything,” said the 50-year-old.

He revealed that he got his stock from the Selayang wholesale market or direct from his own farm in Cameron Highlands.

Hor is pictured selling fresh eggs at the Old Town Wet Market in Petaling Jaya March 25,2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Egg seller, Hor Sok Chan, 45, said there was a slight decrease in egg supplies due to an increase in sales.

“Malaysians like to go out in the morning, especially the older crowd, sit at these old-school cafes and have eggs and toast.

“Now they have to do it at home so I can see my regulars coming to stock up on, say, two to three more cartons of eggs,” she said.

Another vegetable seller, Ikhlas Rahman, 41, said his supplies were affected by the closure of the Selayang wholesale market.

“Can’t sell anything myself as I rely on suppliers. Since Selayang closed, my supplies are slightly reduced,” he said.

He said other vegetable sellers have suffered the same fate as they too obtain their supplies from the Selayang wholesale market.

“Since today is the first day the other markets are closed, we may see more people coming in tomorrow,” he said.

In Ipoh, traders at the Ipoh Central Market said that fresh food supplies are still adequate but they are worried they won’t be able to make a profit as there has been a drop in sales following the MCO.

Traders say supply of fresh food such as seafood is adequate at the Ipoh Central Market despite the movement control order. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Medaa Cat Fish stall owner Roshidi Ahmad Ismail, 37, said his supplies are ample as the fish are a freshwater breed and reared locally.

“Suppliers told us there is enough supply of fish and we can get it any time if necessary. However, the situation here is the demand for the fish has fallen since the MCO,” he said.

Fadlulah Saibon, 29, who sells a variety of seafood, such as fish, prawns and squid, said that the seafood supply is more than sufficient, but also reiterated that demand has dropped.

“The supply is still okay as fishermen are allowed to work throughout the MCO, and travel restrictions don’t apply to those who deliver fish. However, business has been affected due to the drop in the number of people visiting the market,” he said. 

Meanwhile, a trader, who sells eggs and only wanted to be named as Soo, said that there is no shortage of eggs.

“However, since most restaurants are closed and some are open only for certain hours, the demand for eggs and other grocery items has decreased,” said the 50-year-old.

Another egg trader, Oh Boon Hoi, 47, said that he is not planning to add more stock as he has an ample amount of eggs which have yet to be sold.

Butcher Marradass Balakrishan, 40, also said that sales have dropped by about 80 per cent since the MCO came into effect.

“The sales on the first and second day of MCO were OK, but after that, it has dropped drastically. We’ve only had a handful of customers visiting the butcher section in this market since then,” he said.

Meanwhile, Salleh Sarim, 50, and Mohd Nor Al-Hafiz Nor Mansor, 21, said Perak has a large poultry industry so there is more than an adequate supply of chicken.

They also said that they are worried chicken that has been butchered can’t be stored for long, as the quality might be affected.

While food items were plentiful, there seems to be a shortage of beer at some mini markets and supermarkets in Ipoh.

Save Mini Market head of operations, Prem Kumar, 26, said their beer supply has dropped by about 50 per cent.

“However, despite the drop in supply, we still have some beer stock as the sales also dropped since we are no longer operating 24 hours,” he said.

The mini market chain now closes at 7pm as per the state government’s order.

A Jaya Grocer staff arranging cans of beer in Ipoh. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Jaya Grocer supervisor, Eran, also admitted that the supply of beer has fallen but it has stocked up on the alcoholic beverage.

Over in Kota Kinabalu, shoppers are similarly reassured of a sufficient supply of fresh vegetables, eggs and meat.

Supply managers told Malay Mail that there is enough stock even after the initial panic buying.

“Fish and seafood supply can be unpredictable, but we have been able to get supply,” they said.

The MCO was initially meant to last until March 31 but has since been extended to April 14.

A special committee headed by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has also been set up earlier this week to ensure adequate supply of foodstuff during the order period.


Related Articles Senior minister: Federal ministers to attend state NSC meetings in effort to streamline MCO guidelines IIUM doctor tweaks idea of aerosol boxes, urges engineers help make them in Covid-19 treatment to assist frontliners Senior minister: NSC weighing stricter rules for extended Covid-19 shutdown