Minister: Survey of 27 hypermarts shows food readily available, no shortages

Justin Ong
Shoppers shopping for groceries at a Giant hypermarket in Shah Alam March 17, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Authorities found staple foods to still be easily obtainable at major hypermarkets and supermarkets nationwide, a senior minister said to allay concerns of possible shortages.

Senior Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government inspected 27 such outlets across Malaysia and found no reason for Malaysians to be concerned about not being able to buy essentials.

He also clarified his previous assurance about the steady availability of rice nationwide.

“When we said rice supply was adequate, we meant rice as a whole and not specific brands. 

“For example, there may be those who prefer Brand A rice, but this does not mean there is ample supply of this brand; we mean rice in totality,” he said during his daily press conference today.

He also thanked businesses and consumers for observing the social distancing guidelines prescribed as a protection against Covid-19.

He said some hypermarkets have introduced measures of their own, such as queueing guides that encourage consumers to maintain the recommended 1m gap from each other to minimise the risk of infections.

Ismail acknowledged that such measures meant there were extensive queues at some locations, which meant long wait times for those waiting to enter or pay.

“Thank you for your patience and for observing the restrictions,” the senior minister said to Malaysians.

After an initial bout of panic buying, Malaysians have quickly taken to shopping in orderly fashion and buying their daily essentials in reasonable amounts.

Some items such as bread and eggs still tend to sell out each day but the supply of other staple foods has been steady across the MCO.

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