Friday, July 18, 2008

New committee set up to ensure stability in long term food supply

By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia
18 July 2008 2107 hrs

SINGAPORE: As global supply shocks continue to hit food-importing countries, the government has taken another step to help ease the impact of escalating prices. It has set up a committee to study how the country can ensure stability in long term food supply.

When the avian flu struck the region in 2004, Singapore companies which had buffer stocks of frozen poultry in their cold stores were able to do business as usual.

Speaking at the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) Food Safety Awards Night 2008 on Friday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, said food companies here need to develop similar business continuity plans in case of a break in supply.

Singapore is already importing food from more countries and has turned to frozen meat as a cheaper alternative.

Among its plans, the new inter-agency committee will examine Singapore's farming policy while investing in food production overseas.

Mr Mah said: "We need to recognise that many of the factors that are affecting the food supply situation today are not temporary ones, but structural changes. For example, the increased demand for food is due to rising affluence of developing countries, diversion of arable land for biofuel production and climate change."

The committee will be led by the ministries for National Development and Trade and Industry.

But Mr Mah said that the top priority goes to ensuring the food that we eat, is safe. The AVA closely regulates the food that we consume but Mr Mah said businesses too need to take the initiative.

And as consumer tastebuds become more discerning, it makes business sense for food establishments to maintain high standards. - CNA/vm

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