Competitive Industry Report on the Singapore Market for Imported Meat and Poultry - A Guide for Canadian Exporters

March 2010

Abbreviated

Prepared for:
The High Commission of Canada in Singapore
&
Office of Southeast Asia Regional Agri-Food Trade Commissioner
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Prepared by:
Stanton, Emms & Sia
80 Raffles Place, Level 36-01
UOB Plaza 1,
Singapore 048624
Tel: +65 6334 7030
Fax: +65 6223 2010
Email: emmsia@pacific.net.sg
Website: http://stantonemmsandsia.foodandbeverage.biz

This report contains market information collected by Stanton, Emms & Sia. The Government of Canada assumes no liability for the accuracy and reliability of the market information and intelligence provided herein. *For the complete report, Canadians are invited to contact Mr. Francis Chan at the High Commission of Canada in Singapore : francis.chan@international.gc.ca


1. Introduction

This guide for Canadian exporters is prepared for the High Commission of Canada in Singapore and the ASEAN Agri-Food Trade Commissioner, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It covers the Singapore markets for:

  • fresh / chilled beef;
  • frozen beef;
  • fresh / chilled pork;
  • frozen pork; and,
  • frozen chicken parts, not whole chicken.

It was researched in February and March 2010. The report was prepared to provide Canada's ASEAN based Agrifood Team of Trade Commissioners and Canadian producers and exporters with an up-to-date understanding of the target market and opportunities in Singapore for selected Canadian meat and poultry products.

This report is focused on the market, demand traits, competition and strategy. It should be noted that Singapore has a very strict regulatory system when it comes to meat and poultry. The goal of the system is to keep Singapore's residents safe from diseases and contaminants.

The system has strong measures against countries with past BSE outbreaks and bans are speedily applied on the import of products from countries with periodic outbreaks of other animal diseases, or contaminants in their meat supply chain. Currently, Canada has restrictions placed on its ability to export beef, which were implemented after the North American BSE outbreak.


2. Market size, nature of supply and development trends

2.1 Singapore's consumption of meat and poultry

Official data indicates that Singapore consumed about 368,000 tonnes of meat and poultry in 2008 (see Chart below).

Singapore's Meat and Poultry Consumption in 2008 – 369,393 Tonnes

Consumption: Description of this image follows.
Description

Singapore’s Meat and Poultry Consumption in 2008 – 369,393 Tonnes: Chicken 53%, Pork 30%, Beef 9%, Duck 5%, Mutton and lamb 3%

Source: Government of Singapore Data (Only for major categories)

As can be seen from the chart above, the products that are covered by this study are important features in the Singapore diet.

Singapore's per capital consumption of meat and poultry amounted to 61 kilograms per annum in 2008, down slightly from 61.5 kilograms in 2004. The chart below provides an overview of per-capita consumption of beef, pork and chicken over this 5 year period.

Singapore's Per Capita Consumption of Beef, Pork and Chicken – 2004 to 2008

Per Capita Consumption: Description of this image follows.
Description

Singapore’s Per Capita Consumption of Beef, Pork and Chicken – 2004 to 2008: Chicken - 31.8(2004) 32.3(2005) 29.2(2006) 33(2007) 32.7(2008), Pork - 20.8(2004) 19.3(2005) 20.1(2006) 20.6(2007) 19.2(2008), Beef - 4.3(2004) 3.7(2005) 3.8(2006) 4.3(2007) 4(2008)

Source: Government of Singapore Data

As can be seen from the Chart above, Singapore's market for beef, pork and chicken is very stable, even under the situation where the population grew from 4.17 million in 2004 to 4.84 million in 2008. This situation underpins a market that is already mature, because of the affluent nature of Singapore's small population.

Trade sources comment that the dip in chicken meat consumption occurred because the wholesale price of chicken jumped by between 25% and 30% in 2006. This resulted in the lower income groups reducing the quantities of chicken that they were consuming and shifting to more consumption of eggs, tofu and, potentially, lower end pork (offals) and fish and seafood products.

Singapore has a multi-religious society in which chicken is a staple meat for all consumers, and there are markets for both non-halal and halal chicken. In addition to this:

  • pork is a staple for Singapore's majority ethnic Chinese population (around 70% of the total population; and,
  • beef is one of the staple meats for its Muslim population (around 13% of the population).

Halal certified beef is becoming much more important that in the past because:

· many food service outlets are halal certified, including the key fast food and quick service chains. Strategically, such businesses now find this important in a competitive market where outlets have to target the whole population, not just a segment of it; and,

· there has been an increase in the number of Muslim business visitors and tourists from the neighbouring Muslim majority countries, i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. This has altered the procurement strategies of hotels because, like the above mentioned food service outlets, they wish to target the broader population of tourists, which include Muslims from South East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

Tourists and business visitors from Indonesia and Malaysia accounted for 24% of Singapore's 10.1 million visitor arrivals in 2008. They are now a very important revenue stream for the Singapore tourist industry and accounted for 21% of all tourism receipts in that year. 15% of tourism revenues are spent in food and beverage outlets. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, Indonesians are amongst the highest spending visitors to enter and stay as tourists in Singapore.

2.2 Overview of domestic supplies

A sizeable proportion of Singapore's pork and poultry meat suppliers are produced from imported live pigs and chickens that are slaughtered at its local abattoirs. In 2008, the island's slaughterhouses processed 41.9 million chickens and 326,551 pigs. Provisional data indicates that live pig processing in 2009 fell to around 285,000 head, whereas there were around 2% more chickens slaughtered in the year.

Singapore has one licensed pig slaughterhouse and 10 licensed chicken slaughterhouses. The Jewish Welfare Board of Singapore also has approval to slaughter chickens for the small Jewish community.

Singapore's Agrifood and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has accredited 140 chicken broiler farms in Malaysia and a pig farm located on a neighbouring island in Indonesia as suppliers of live chickens and pigs to Singapore. These supply bases exist as part of Singapore's food security measures. There are no pig farms in Singapore. According to the AVA, its poultry industry, which has a strategic focus on eggs, only produced 1,667 tonnes of chicken meat in 2008.

2.3 Overview of markets for the specific products covered by the study

Singapore's imports of the specific products covered by this study were valued at a total of C$ 554.5 million in 2008, up from about C$ 347 million in 2004 (see Table below).

Overview of Trends in the Value of Imports of the Products Covered by this Study (C$ ‘000)
Product 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Fresh/chilled beef 22,892 24,347 28,610 35,794 41,948
Frozen beef 39,921 42,749 47,809 56,620 79,025
Fresh/chilled pork 76,991 70,489 86,113 78,707 67,620
Frozen pork 99,686 108,943 115,318 122,451 155,226
Frozen chicken parts 107,538 135,304 112,478 151,164 210,674
Total 347,028 381,832 390,328 444,736 554,493

Source: Singapore's external trade statistics (Official classifications)

There has been a substantial growth in the value of these markets because Singapore's residents generally have strong demand for meat and poultry as part of their diet. As mentioned earlier, the products covered by the study are entrenched staple food items.

This underpins a situation where the market has accepted price rises as the global price of meat and poultry has risen over the past 5 years.

One reaction to higher prices has been a shift towards frozen and lower cost products in the more price sensitive mass market. As highlighted in the Table above, this has resulted in big increases in the value of frozen chicken parts, frozen pork and frozen beef.

The provisional data for 2009 indicates that Singapore's imports of the products covered by this study were valued at around C$ 520 million in that year, with the following product mix.

Singapore Imports of Beef, Pork and Frozen Chicken Parts in 2009 - C$ 520 Million

Imports: Description of this image follows.
Description

Singapore Imports of Beef, Pork and Frozen Chicken Parts in 2009 - C$ 520 Million: Frozen chicken parts 34%, Frozen pork 31%, Frozen beef 14%, Fresh/chilled pork 13%, Fresh/chilled beef 8%

Source: Government of Singapore (Provisional Data)

The above market profile is very similar to that reported in 2008.


3. Beef

3.1 Fresh/chilled beef

Singapore's imports of fresh/chilled beef amounted to 3,173 tonnes valued at C$ 41.9 million in 2008, up from 2,015 tonnes valued at about C$ 22.9 million in 2004 (see Table below).

Singapore's Imports of Fresh/Chilled Beef – 2004 to 2008 (Tonnes)
  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Bone-in 119 112 186 145 273
Boneless 1,896 1,927 2,260 2,660 2,900
Total 2,015 2,039 2,446 2,805 3,173
% change - 1.2 % 19.9 % 14.7 % 13.1 %

Source: Singapore's external trade statistics

Provisional data on the trade in fresh/chilled beef for 2009 indicates that Singapore imported 3,600 tonnes of product valued at C$ 44 million in that year. This highlights that the growth trend seen in the period since 2006 continued into 2009, despite Singapore's weaker economic circumstances.

Singapore is importing fresh/chilled beef from up to 5 countries, although the bulk of imports come from 3 countries (see Tables below for market shares and import trends).

Imports of Fresh/Chilled Beef by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 3,173 Tonnes

Imports Fresh/Chilled Beef: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imports of Fresh/Chilled Beef by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 3,173 Tonnes: Australia 60%, New Zealand 30%, United States 9%, Others 1%

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Trends in Imports of Fresh/Chilled Beef from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes

Trends Fresh/Chilled Beef: Description of this image follows.
Description

Trends in Imports of Fresh/Chilled Beef from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes: Australia - 1116(2004) 1221(2005) 1423(2006) 1635(2007) 1900(2008), New Zealand - 873(2004) 796(2005) 840(2006) 872(2007) 963(2008), USA - 15(2004) 0(2005) 162(2006) 248(2007) 291(2008)

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Imports of fresh/chilled beef have been growing on the back of demand from a larger resident population and also increases in the number of tourist and business visitors. Trade sources comment that the population now contains a higher proportion of resident consumers of beef than it did in the past, e.g. expatriates and permanent residents from North Asia and the West.

Singapore's Imports of Fresh/Chilled Bone-in Beef: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Australia 9,651 77.2 14,989 82.3 11,575 69.8
New Zealand 7,554 22.8 9,489 17.5 4,854 29.2
All imports 9,172 100.0 14,029 100.0 9,569 100.0
Tonnes imported 186 145 273

Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

Australia dominates the market because it is more focused on building a large market for its beef than is New Zealand. New Zealand is similar to the USA in that it tends to focus on developing niches in food service and retail. The USA and, recently, Canada is also disadvantaged by the fact that its market access is restricted because of Singapore's strict regulations covering beef from countries that have had BSE outbreaks in the past, e.g. currently only boneless beef is permitted to enter.

Singapore's Imports of Fresh/Chilled Boneless Beef: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Australia 12,255 56.6 12,859 57.0 13,311 58.9
New Zealand 10,125 35.3 10,672 31.8 12,222 30.5
USA 18,137 7.2 19,303 9.3 19,397 10.0
All imports 11,901 100.0 12,689 100.0 13,566 100.0

Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

The Table below provides some indications of retail prices of the standard fresh/chilled beef cuts at the time of this study, i.e. February 2010.

Indicative Retail Pricing of Fresh/Chilled Beef
Brand, if any Meat Cut Country of Origin S$ per Kilogram C$ per Tonne
None Ribeye Australia 59.90 45,200
Freshlands Eye Fillet New Zealand 63.00 47,500
US Grain Fed Ribeye USA 88.00 66,400
Freshlands Striploin New Zealand 42.90 32,400
Diamantina Striploin Australia 53.90 40,700
US Grain Fed Striploin USA 87.00 65,700
None Chuck Tender Australia 34.90 26,300
None Tenderloin Australia 75.90 57,300
None Flank Steak Australia 43.90 33,100
None Topside Australia 34.90 26,300
None Oxtails Australia 34.90 26,300
Freshlands Scotch Fillet New Zealand 52.90 39,900
None Shin Australia 27.00 20,400

Source: Mainstream supermarkets (February 2010)

It should be noted that Japanese-style cuts also have a sizeable presence in the market. There are also some other cuts that are specifically aimed at usage in Singaporean cuisine, e.g. steamboat/hot pot cuts, curry cubes, and stir-fry cuts.

As can be seen from the two Tables above, there is a sizeable mark-up in the supply chain from port of entry (landed cost) to retail outlet. The average mark-up for Australia beef is around 250%, whereas U.S. beef is higher at around 300%.

The retail price of fresh/chilled beef varies depending on the target market of the supermarket. Pricing in outlets with expatriates as a key target tends to be higher than supermarkets that target Singaporean middle income consumers.

3.2 Frozen beef

Singapore's imports of frozen beef amounted to 18,584 tonnes valued at C$ 79 million in 2008, up from 13,475 tonnes valued at about C$ 39.9 million in 2004 (see Table below). Such beef is mass market, when compared to fresh/chilled beef, which is a premium to super premium product.

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Beef – 2004 to 2008 (Tonnes)
  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Bone-in 762 869 1,081 1,579 2,364
Boneless 12,713 12,919 13,980 16,582 16,220
Total 13,475 13,788 15,061 18,161 18,584
% change - 2.3 % 9.2 % 20.6 % 2.3 %

Source: Singapore's external trade statistics

Provisional data on the trade in frozen beef for 2009 indicates that Singapore imported 19,500 tonnes of product valued at C$ 73 million in that year. On a volume basis, demand appears to have grown at around 4.5% in that year.

Singapore is importing frozen beef from up to 8 countries, although the bulk of imports come from 3 countries (see Charts below for market shares and import trends).

Imports of Frozen Beef by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 18,584 Tonnes

Frozen Beef: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imports of Frozen Beef by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 18,584 Tonnes: Brazil 46%, Australie 34%, New Zealand 16%, Uruguay 3%, USA - negligible, Othes - negligible

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Trends in Imports of Frozen Beef from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes

Trends - Frozen Beef: Description of this image follows.
Description

Trends in Imports of Frozen Beef from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes: Brazil - 11468(2004) 11770(2005) 12296(2006) 12784(2007) 8684(2008), Australia - 831(2004) 799(2005) 1230(2006) 3740(2007) 6304(2008), New Zealand - 1134(2004) 991(2005) 1057(2006) 1569(2007) 2930(2008), Uruguay - 0(2004) 0(2005) 50(2006) 2(2007) 537(2008), USA - 1(2004) 3(2005) 65(2006) 25(2007) 101(2008), Argentina - 0(2004) 0(2005) 61(2006) 0(2007) 25(2008), India -0(2004) 189(2005) 295(2006) 15(2007) 0(2008), China - 28(2004) 7(2005) 0(2006) 19(2007) 0(2008)

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

The points about the growth drivers being a larger population of residents and tourists and business visitors, mentioned earlier in this report, are also relevant to frozen beef. The resident population includes large numbers of students and foreign workers that come from beef consuming cultures across Asia. This trait has also had positive impacts on the demand for value-for-money frozen beef from retail outlets, and from mass market food service outlets.

Singapore's regulatory environment has a very strong impact on the origins of frozen beef that enter its market. Frozen bone-in beef only enters from Australia and New Zealand. Frozen boneless beef has its origins in a broader base of countries, because of demand traits, which are complex at the level of price, quality and product functionality, e.g. "curry beef" versus value-for-money steaks.

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Bone-in Beef: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Australia 3,502 47.4 2,071 65.3 1,980 81.4
New Zealand 3,040 29.9 3,037 30.7 3,025 18.5
All imports 3,010 100.0 2,328 100.0 2,176 100.0
Tonnes imported 1,081 1,579 2,364

Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Boneless Beef: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Brazil 2,798 86.3 2,666 76.7 4,349 53.5
Australia 5,850 5.1 4,262 16.3 4,499 27.0
New Zealand 6,524 5.2 6,326 6.5 5,424 15.4
Uruguay 2,640 0.4 - Neg 3,374 3.3
USA 13,724 0.4 19,131 0.1 9,282 0.6
Argentina 3,395 0.4 - - 4,532 0.2
India 2,148 2.1 2,089 0.1 - -
All imports 3,187 100.0 3,193 100.0 4,554 100.0
Tonnes imported 13,980 16,582 16,220

Neg: Negligible.
Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

Trade sources comment that the position of Brazilian beef has recently been undermined by its increasing landed cost versus Australia, which has a higher preference than Brazil in the Singapore consumer market. Brazil's cost base as an exporter has increased because of a strengthening of its currency, higher input costs and a shortfall in supplies for export.

This has resulted in Brazil loosing market share to Australia and New Zealand over the past 3 years.

The reality of the situation is that Brazilian beef is not at all competitive in the Singapore market if its price is similar to that of Australia. Australia and New Zealand have extremely strong "country of origin" brands as meat suppliers at all levels in the Singapore supply chain and market. In contrast, Brazilian frozen beef is meant to be "cheap and utilitarian". It is also regarded by much of the consumer market as "third world".

The Table below provides an indication of frozen beef products and their retail pricing at the time of this study. Frozen beef only has a limited range of cuts in the retail market.

Indicative Retail Pricing of Frozen Beef
Brand, if any Meat Cut Country of Origin S$ per Kilogram C$ per Tonne
No brand but clearly labelled "Halal" as a retailer label Striploin (In 300 gm pack) Brazil 27.00 20,100
No brand but clearly labelled "Halal" as a retailer label Shabu Shabu cut beef (In 300 gm pack) Brazil 17.00 12,600
Amir's (Singapore private label) Sukiyaki cut beef (In 400 gm pack) Australia 19.90 15,000
Amir's (Singapore private label) Stir-fry beef slices (in 200 gm pack). Australia 14.75 11,100
Amir's (Singapore private label) Beef knuckle slices (In 500 gm pack) Brazil 11.00 8,300
Amir's (Singapore private label) Ribeye Steak (in 500 gm pack) Australia 15.90 12,000

Source: Mainstream supermarkets


4. Pork

4.1 Fresh/chilled pork

Singapore's imports of fresh/chilled pork amounted to 16,077 tonnes valued at C$ 67.6 million in 2008, down in an erratic manner from 21,055 tonnes valued at about C$ 77 million in 2004 (see Table below).

Singapore's Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork – 2004 to 2008 (Tonnes)
  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Carcass or half carcass 19,778 15,420 19,921 17,036 13,549
Bone-in 225 478 414 359 359
Boneless 1,042 2,055 2,694 2,530 2,169
Total 21,055 17,953 23,029 19,925 16,077
% change - (14.7 %) 28.3 % (13.5%) (19.3%)

Source: Singapore's external trade statistics

Trade sources comment that fresh/chilled bone-in cuts of pork have very little demand in Singapore because of the very high level supply of fresh/chilled pork portioned carcasses that are available in the market (see Table above).

Provisional data on the trade in fresh/chilled pork for 2009 indicates that Singapore imported 14,500 tonnes of product valued at C$ 69 million in that year. This highlights that there has been a continued fall in demand for such products into 2009, from the last peak of imports in 2006 (as highlighted in the Table above).

Singapore is importing fresh/chilled pork carcass portions from Australia. China exports suckling pig to Singapore. The Charts below provide an overview of market shares and import trends for this category.

Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork Carcass or Half Carcass by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 13,549 Tonnes

Pork Carcass: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork Carcass or Half Carcass by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 13,549 Tonnes: Austalia 100%, China -Negligible

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Trends in Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork Carcass or Half Carcass from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes

Trends - Pork Carcass: Description of this image follows.
Description

Trends in Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork Carcass or Half Carcass from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes: Australia - 19757(2004) 15419(2005) 19919(2006) 17023(2007) 13542(2008), Others - 21(2004) 2(2005) 1(2006) 13(2007) 7(2008)

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Australia dominates this market to the virtual exclusion of other supply countries. This situation exists because of its strategic business and marketing strategy, which is very closely tied to servicing the exact product needs of the Singapore retail market. The other countries involved include China (suckling pigs) and New Zealand (organic pork).

Singapore's Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork Carcass or Half Carcass: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Australia 3,639 100.0 3,807 99.9 4,023 99.9
All imports 3,639 100.0 3,807 100.0 4,023 100.0
Tonnes imported 19,921 17,036 13,549

Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

The volume of other fresh/chilled other pork cuts is extremely low, mainly because foreign cut pork does not match the very specific demands of Singaporean Chinese consumers, which represent well over 90% of the demand base for fresh/chilled pork. Australia is also the main player in the "other fresh/chilled pork cuts" market (see Chart below).

Imports of Fresh/Chilled Other Pork Cuts by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 2,528 Tonnes

Other Pork Cuts: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imports of Fresh/Chilled Other Pork Cuts by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 2,528 Tonnes: Australia 98%, Canada 1%, United States - Negligible, New Zealand - Negligible

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Trends in Imports of Fresh/Chilled Other Pork Cuts from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes

Trends - Other Pork Cuts: Description of this image follows.
Description

Trends in Imports of Fresh/Chilled Other Pork Cuts from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes: Australia - 930(2004) 2168(2005) 2956(2006) 2735(2007) 2494(2008), Canada - 129(2004) 0(2005) 27(2006) 166(2007) 15(2008), United States - 13(2004) 14(2005) 26(2006) 15(2007) 13(2008), New Zealand - 0(2004) 15(2005) 117(2006) 17(2007) 5(2008), France - 0(2004) 0(2005) 24(2006) 0(2007) 0(2008), Denmark - 3(2004) 0(2005) 23(2006) 0(2007) 0(2008)

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Singapore's Imports of Fresh/Chilled Pork Boneless:Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Australia 4,301 92.8 4,753 91.9 5,215 98.6
Canada 5,897 1.0 4,820 6.6 9,079 0.7
USA 10,920 1.0 9,263 0.6 7,403 0.6
New Zealand 5,083 3.5 6,514 0.5 4,788 0.1
France 2,790 0.9 - - - -
Denmark 2,968 0.9 - - - -
All imports 4,383 100.0 4,784 100.0 5,256 100.0
Tonnes imported 2,694 2,530 2,169

Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

Imported fresh/chilled pork competes in a market with high volumes of locally produced pork. As mentioned earlier in this report, pork is a staple meat and price is very important. Australia leads this market because it is:

  • a value-for-money supplier based on CIF pricing; and,
  • can supply high volumes of pork carcass portions within required food safety and shelf life specifications and tolerances.

Local trade sources comment that fresh/chilled pork produced from Indonesian pigs, although in relatively short supply, is now quite competitive at the level of price with imported fresh/chilled pork (see Table below for details of the ex-farm price of fresh pork in Singapore).

Ex-Farm Price of Fresh Pork In Singapore (C$ per Tonne )
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
2,882 2,880 3,473 3,346 3,264

Source: Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, Singapore (From Indonesian produced live pigs)

There are a complex range of products and pricing in the pork market. The Table below provides a small sample of key products in the market.

Indicative Retail Pricing of Fresh/Chilled Pork
Brand, if any Meat Cut Country of Origin S$ per Kilogram C$ per Tonne *
Australian Pork Belly Australia 17.90 to 21.00 15,500
Australian Pork Chop Australia 15.00 to 16.00 12,300
Australian Pork Loin Australia 17.50 to 24.00 16,500
USA Pork Loin USA 32.00 25,400
Australian Pork Lean leg Australia 18.00 to 21.00 15,500
Australian Pork Fillet Australia 32.00 to 35.00 26,600
Australian Pork Twee Bak Australia 16.00 to 18.00 13,500
Australian Pork Spare Ribs Australia 22.00 to 25.00 18,700
Australian Pork Front Hock Australia 7.50 to 9.00 6,600

*: Averaged based on price range.
Source: Mainstream supermarkets

The range of prices arises because different supermarket chains have different targets ranging from low income to high income shoppers.

The U.S. product is only retailed in high income Japanese owned supermarkets and indicates the vast difference that exists between Australian mass market pork and U.S. niche market pork. This scenario is relevant to Canadian fresh/chilled pork because it is also higher priced than Australian pork in the retail outlets where it is sold.

4.3 Frozen pork

Singapore's imports of frozen pork amounted to 48,507 tonnes valued at C$ 155.2 million in 2008, up from 40,460 tonnes valued at about C$ 99.7 million in 2004 (see Table below).

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Pork – 2004 to 2008 (Tonnes)
  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Carcass or half carcass 1,178 849 1,032 881 769
Bone-in 282 515 502 311 652
Boneless 39,000 37,308 40,906 46,965 47,086
Total 40,460 38,672 42,440 48,157 48,507
% change - (4.4 %) 9.7 % 13.5 % 0.7 %

Source: Singapore's external trade statistics

Provisional data on the trade in frozen pork for 2009 indicates that Singapore imported around 53,000 tonnes of product valued at C$ 160 million in that year.

Import volumes increased by close to 9%, largely because 2009 saw a continued shift away from fresh/chilled pork towards frozen boneless pork in price sensitive segments of the market, e.g. the lower income group consumers. The catalyst for this shift has been a government funded marketing campaign, which is considered in a following section of this report.

Frozen pork is imported from a sizeable number of countries, although the bulk is supplied by 5 countries, including Canada (see Chart below).

Imports of Frozen Pork by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 48,507 Tonnes

Imports - Frozen Pork: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imports of Frozen Pork by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 48,507 Tonnes: Brésil 45%, United States 18%, Canada 8%, Netherlands 8%, France 7%, Chile 3%, Australia 2%, Denmark 2%, Taiwan 2% China 2%, Germany 1%, Belgium 1%, Others 1%

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Trends in Imports of Frozen Pork from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes

Trends - Frozen Pork: Description of this image follows.
Description

Trends in Imports of Frozen Pork from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes: Brazil - 15565(2004) 16327(2005) 24447(2006) 30867(2007) 21981(2008), United States - 172(2004) 744(2005) 795(2006) 622(2007) 8581(2008), Canada - 1317(2004) 1711(2005) 1817(2006) 1827(2007) 3728(2008), Netherlands -2388(2004) 3716(2005) 2532(2006) 4148(2007) 3712(2008), France - 3563(2004) 2805(2005) 3812(2006) 5001(2007) 32758(2008), Chile - 0(2004) 0(2005) 0(2006) 0(2007) 1224(2008), Australia -526(2004) 717(2005) 671(2006) 1174(2007) 1195(2008), Denmark - 370(2004) 792(2005) 472(2006) 169(2007) 1139(2008), Taiwan - 0(2004) 0(2005) 0(2006) 75(2007) 999(2008), China - 13179(2004) 93242005) 5002(2006) 1582(2007) 819(2008), Germany - 1689(2004) 1390(2005) 1084(2006) 769(2007) 703(2008), Belgium - 635(2004) 501(2005) 529(2006) 727(2007) 515(2008), Ireland - 25(2004) 335(2005) 610(2006) 541(2007) 315(2008)

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Following on from the 1999 Nipah virus crisis and the ban of Malaysian pigs entering Singapore for slaughter, much of the lower end food service market for pork shifted to using frozen pork. There was also growth in import of frozen pork by Singapore's meat processors for use in the production of:

  • traditional pork based items, such as BBQ pork and traditional Chinese style sausages and for use inside various types of dumpling-style products, some of which have highly seasonal demand in terms of usage / consumption peaks; and,
  • introduced pork based items, such as European-style sausages and cold cuts.

The past 3 to 5 years has seen an increase in the sale of frozen pork sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets and this became part of government anti-inflation policy after global meat prices shot up dramatically. Today, frozen pork is an entrenched part of the food retailing scene in Singapore. This segment mainly involves retailer-specific brands and private labels, e.g. Porkee, a private label pork that has Brazil and Netherlands origin pork in its portfolio.

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Pork Boneless: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Brazil 2,702 59.8 2,483 65.6 3,348 46.4
USA 3,079 1.8 2,732 1.3 2,861 17.9
Canada 1,586 4.0 1,660 3.7 2,752 7.6
Netherlands 3,026 6.0 3,124 8.6 3,503 7.7
France 2,802 9.0 2,505 10.3 2,600 6.8
Chile - - - - 3,427 2.4
Australia 1,551 1.2 1,543 2.4 1,822 2.5
Denmark 3,358 1.1 2,626 0.3 2,390 2.3
Taiwan - - 2,859 0.2 4,218 2.1
China 2,317 10.1 2,746 2.0 4,221 0.5
Germany 3,460 2.6 3,075 1.6 3,133 1.5
Belgium 2,825 1.3 2,529 1.5 2,887 1.1
Ireland 1,677 1.5 2,245 1.1 2,623 0.6
All imports 2,649 100.0 2,500 100.0 3,120 100.0
Tonnes imported 40,906 46,965 47,086

Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

The bulk of frozen pork in the retail channels today is sourced from Brazil. The Netherlands is the other prominent supply country. There are a very limited range of frozen cuts available.

While this is the case, the pricing is very low, when compared to equivalent fresh/chilled products. As an example, frozen belly pork is retailed at the equivalent of around C$ 7,000 per tonne, when compared to fresh/chilled belly pork at over C$ 15,000 per tonne today.

Indicative Retail Pricing of Frozen Pork
Brand, if any Meat Cut Country of Origin S$ per Kilogram C$ per Tonne
Retailer private label Belly pork (In 500 gm pack) Brazil 9.40 7,090
Retailer private label Pork chop (In 250 gm pack) Brazil 12.00 9,060
Retailer private label Shoulder butt (In 500 gm pack) Brazil 8.80 6,650
Retailer private label Prime rib (In 500 gm pack) Brazil 11.80 8,900
Retailer private label Boneless pork loin Brazil 9.40 7,090

Source: Mainstream supermarkets


5. Frozen chicken parts

5.1 Review of the market

Singapore's imports of frozen chicken parts amounted to 85,057 tonnes valued at C$ 210.7 million in 2008, up from 63,103 tonnes valued at about C$ 107.5 million in 2004 (see Table below).

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Chicken Parts – 2004 to 2008 (Tonnes)
  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Total 63,103 73,539 69,757 81,752 85,057
% change - 16.5 % (5.1 %) 17.2 % 4.0 %

Source: Singapore's external trade statistics

Provisional data on the trade in frozen chicken parts for 2009 indicates that Singapore imported 83,600 tonnes of product valued at C$ 170 million in that year (see Chart below).

Imported Frozen Chicken Parts by Broad Category in 2008 – 85,000 Tonnes

Imports - Chicken Parts: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imported Frozen Chicken Parts by Broad Category in 2008 – 85,000 Tonnes: Deboned meat 35%, Wings 33%, Half chickens whole legs etc. 20%, Thighs 12%

Source: Government data and trade estimates

Trade sources comment that the frozen poultry market is quite mature. It remained rather flat in the retail market in 2009 because of a good supply of live chickens from Malaysia. Provisional data indicates that there were around 900,000 additional chickens slaughtered in 2009, when compared to 2008.

All of the products highlighted in the Chart above have strong demand in Singapore's food service industry, which includes high volume demand from the lower end segment, which is highly fragmented in terms of the numbers of outlets. Important demand also comes from the more concentrated fast food industry.

While the retail market is dominated by fresh/chilled chicken, all supermarkets and hypermarkets carry some frozen chicken parts in their frozen food displays, e.g. chicken wings, deboned leg meat, chicken thighs and whole chicken legs. Only about 10% of the products carried are in IQF form.

Two supply countries dominate the frozen chicken parts market:

  • Brazil, which is the market leader. It has several companies all aggressively fighting on a price and commodity basis for market share, e.g. Sadia, Seara, Frangosol and Eliane; and,
  • The USA. The most prominent U.S. supplier in the retail market is Tyson, which is attempting to differentiate its products from those supplied by Brazil (see Table below).

Imports of Frozen Chicken Parts by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 85,057 Tonnes

Imports - Chicken Parts: Description of this image follows.
Description

Imports of Frozen Chicken Parts by Key Supply Country in 2008 - 85,057 Tonnes: Brazil 73%, United States 26%, Malaysia 1%, Argentina Denmark Canada Negligible

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

Trends in Imports of Frozen Chicken Parts from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes

Trends - Chicken Parts: Description of this image follows.
Description

Trends in Imports of Frozen Chicken Parts from Key Supply Countries – 2004 to 2008 In Tonnes: Brazil - 50838(2004) 60048(2005) 54550(2006) 66856(2007) 61964(2008), United States - 9385(2004) 12520(2005)12716(2006) 14024(2007) 22481(2008), Malaysia - 1639(2004) 134(2005) 0(2006) 115(2007) 509(2008), Argentina - 0(2004) 0(2005) 616(2006) 0(2007) 53(2008), Denmark - 32(2004) 0(2005) 51(2006) 0(2007) 25(2008), Canada - 0(2004) 0(2005) 24(2006) 0(2007) 25(2008), Netherlands - 100(2004) 577(2005) 374(2006) 450(2007) 0(2008), China - 283(2004) 185(2005) 526(2006) 242(2007) 0(2008), Turkey - 0(2004) 0(2005) 728(2006) 0(2007) 0(2008), Thailand - 700(2004) 0(2005) 0(2006) 0(2007) 0(2008)

Source: Singapore External Trade Statistics (All cuts)

The structure of the market above is indicative of demand structure and also of the underlying market segmentation strategies of exporters:

  • Brazil is pushing regulatory compliant products into Singapore on a commodity basis. It dominates the chicken wing and boneless meat segments. Its products are commodities and have significantly lower end packaging than, even, some of the equivalent local retailer labeled products; and,
  • the USA is principally involved in thigh, whole legs and drumsticks, where it does have some competition from Brazilian products (see Chart below).

Singapore's Frozen Chicken Parts Market Structure in 2008 – 85,000 Tonnes

Chicken Parts Market: Description of this image follows.
Description

Singapore’s Frozen Chicken Parts Market Structure in 2008 – 85,000 Tonnes: Brazil chicken wings 33%, US chicken wings Negligible, US chicken thighs 6%, Brazil chicken thighs 5%, Brazil boneless legs and other products 35%, US whole legs drumsticks and other products 20%, Other countries 1%

Source: Trade sources

As can be seen from the above data, other supply countries have only a minimal share of this market. Trade sources comment that they have significant difficulty in dealing with the competitive strengths of Brazilian and U.S. exporters and their products in the Singapore market (also see Table below).

Singapore's Imports of Frozen Chicken Parts: Review of Landed Cost Per Tonne and Market Share – 2006 to 2008
  C$ Per Tonne (2006) % Market Share (2006) C$ Per Tonne (2007) % Market Share (2007) C$ Per Tonne (2008) % Market Share (2008)
Brazil 1,758 78.2 1,951 81.8 2,695 72.8
USA 1,118 18.2 1,358 17.2 1,862 26.4
Malaysia - - 3,001 0.1 3,254 0.6
Argentina - - - - 1,502 0.1
Denmark 1,469 0.1 - - 1,501 Neg
Netherlands 1,618 0.6 1,618 0.6 - -
China 1,890 0.3 1,890 0.3 - -
Turkey 1,013 1.0 - - - -
All imports 1,612 100.0 1,849 100.0 2,477 100.0
Tonnes imported 69,757 81,752 85,057

Neg: Negligible volumes imported.
Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

It should be noted that Brazil's landed cost is higher than that of the USA because a significant proportion of its products are higher priced frozen boneless chicken. This commodity product is priced at between US$ 1,000 and US$ 1,500 per tonne higher than bone-in frozen chicken parts.

The Table below provides an overview of trends in the ex-farm price of fresh chicken in Singapore.

Ex-Farm Price of Fresh Chicken In Singapore
(C$ per Tonne)
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
1,425 1,800 1,801 2,004 2,120

Source: Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, Singapore

At the time of writing (February 2010), standard fresh whole chicken was being retailed at the equivalent of around C$ 4,100 per tonne.

Fresh chicken cuts, e.g. bone-in breast, chicken drumsticks, whole legs, thighs and wings tend to be sold on a per retail pack basis rather than on a per kilogram basis. The margin being made on fresh chicken cuts is attractive because they are sold at significantly higher prices than a whole chicken, i.e. around C$ 12,000 per tonne.

The increase in fresh chicken price over the period between 2004 and 2008 (see Table above) is one reason why there has been an increase in the consumption of frozen chicken over this period. Singapore's increasing population is another reason for the increase in consumption.

The retail price of imported frozen chicken parts is competitive, when compared to fresh/chilled chicken parts. A sample of indicative retail prices is provided in the Table below.

Indicative Retail Pricing of Frozen Chicken Parts
Brand, if any Meat Cut Country of Origin S$ per Kilogram C$ per Tonne
Seara Boneless chicken leg meat (2 kilogram pack). Brazil 7.25 5,470
Tyson Whole chicken legs (2.27 kilogram pack). USA 5.51 4,158
Tyson Drumsticks (2.27 kilogram pack). USA 5.51 4,158
Tyson Thighs (2.27 kilogram pack). USA 5.51 4,158
Non Frills (Retailer label) Chicken wings (2.5 kilogram pack) Brazil 4.42 3,185
First Choice (Retailer label) IQF Drumsticks (1 kilogram pack) Brazil 4.85 3,660
Seara Drumsticks (2 kilogram pack) Brazil 4.40 3,320

Source: Mainstream supermarkets (February 2010)


6. Distribution channels

Singapore's importers included frozen food importers, meat specialist companies, specialty food companies and retailers. Independent importers have consolidated around a smaller group of larger companies than existed in the past.

Singapore has a large, growing and expanding food service industry, which is extremely important for local meat and poultry distributors. The high end segment within this is currently going through the final phase of an expansion that is seeing the opening of two large integrated resorts that incorporate a number of high end hotels, with high end shopping malls attached. These developments are expected to provide a significant boost to fine dining and middle income dining in Singapore, with increased opportunities for a range of imported meats.

Meat and poultry retailing is now more sophisticated that it was 10 years ago when most meat and poultry were sold from chilled and frozen display units and there were very few identifiable meat brands or deli counters in the market.

Today, meat and poultry is retailed from:

  • chilled meat display units with prominently displayed brands, which include retailer label brands, e.g. Pasar, national brands such as Australian Pork and some commercial beef brands e.g. John Dee/Australia (in Fairprice outlets), Diamantina/Australia (in Cold Storage outlets) and Grasslands (New Zealand);
  • frozen display units, which now mainly display branded frozen meats rather than the unbranded products of the past. These brands include those linked to commodity chicken parts from Brazil and also Tysons;
  • dedicated frozen display units, e.g. for Porkee, a private label pork found in the Fairprice (NTUC) supermarket chain. The Cold Storage / DFI group also has such display units in some of its chains, e.g. Shop n Save; and,
  • deli-counters, which exist in all of the middle and upper income group supermarkets and hypermarkets.

In some cases, these deli-counters are contracted out to meat importers, e.g. Culina Butchery, which has a collaboration with Fairprice (NTUC) and runs 6 such meat outlets in this retailer's higher end stores. Culina is retailing a range of meat brands through these outlets including Certified Angus Beef (from the USA) and The Premium Wagyu (from Japan).

Retailer label products have a significant presence in the market for fresh/chilled and frozen meats and chicken parts. There are also some private labelled meats, e.g. the Amir brand of beef, which is owned by Singapore Food Industries.

As mentioned earlier in this report, the meat importers have consolidated around larger businesses and professionally managed fine food specialists. Direct procurement and import transactions are also becoming common for the major retailers in market segments where they have high volume demand from their clientele.


7. The Singapore government's intervention in the frozen meat market

7.1 The impact of global food price increases on government policy

As highlighted earlier in this report, the Singapore market has been impacted upon in a sizeable manner by higher meat and poultry prices.

This has had a direct impact on Singapore's generally low inflation rate and has been of significant concern to many middle and lower income families. As Singapore has no agricultural industry producing for its local market, it is inevitably a price taker at times of higher prices.

The overall pricing and security of supply situation in the food market was also a considerable area of debate for the government in 2007 and 2008. This resulted in it launching a new marketing campaign in an effort to introduce the concept of buying and consuming lower priced frozen meats, both pork and beef.

The program was managed by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) with the goals of mitigating the negative effects of supply disruptions and world market price increases on Singaporean mainstream consumers.

The program, known as the Frozen Meat Public Education Program, was introduced in February 2008 using the theme "Eat Well For Less, Choose Frozen Meat". No information is available on the budget for the program, although it was sizeable in terms of the length of time it ran and the use of different high profile media.

Trade sources comment that, in some respects, this program was similar in size to the launch of Australian fresh/chilled pork to Singapore in the aftermath of the Nipah virus-inspired Malaysian pig import ban.

It comprised an integrated media campaign of print (newspapers and magazines), and radio and television commercials. The program used advertorials and cooking recipes with information on frozen meat in magazines, and commissioned TV programs. It also worked closely with major importers and supermarket chains to promote frozen meat. All the major supermarkets held promotions on frozen meat products at their various outlets and AVA produced freezer bags were distributed to consumers who purchased frozen meat.

The stated goal of the program was to "inform consumers that they could still eat quality products at a lower cost, thus helping them to stretch their dollar" at a time of imported retail price inflation.

The last publicly available evaluation report covering the outcomes of the program stated that major supermarkets and retailers reported increased sales of frozen meat of more than 50% during the program period. Additionally, the largest importer of frozen pork for the retail market has also reported an increase in sales of at least 7 times, when compared to sales figures prior to the launch of the "Eat Well For Less, Choose Frozen Meat" program.

This is the first time that an outside entity, i.e. the AVA, has launched a campaign to change the pork market in around 10 years. The last time this was done was when Australia launched its campaign to convert the original warm pork market to fresh/chilled pork after a Nipah virus outbreak forced a ban on Malaysian pig imports into Singapore.

The key challenge for this new education program lies in Singapore's traditional food culture, and an entrenched belief that frozen meat is inferior to fresh/chilled meat, which is, in turn, inferior to warm meat from freshly slaughtered livestock.

Based on extensive past consumer research, for the new program to have any significant impact on meat buying in future, it would likely have to be run for 5 years or more on a consistent basis, and involve frozen meat sourced from more reputable countries.

One of the challenges from the consumer standpoint is that the program was activated by the trade using meats sourced from lower cost countries such as China and Brazil. These countries may not be reputable in the eyes and minds of shoppers. This is a key flaw in the whole strategy, because Singaporeans will always consider food safety and the wellbeing of their family before the price that they pay for meat.

7.2 The fresh/chilled and frozen pork market segment development scenario

Since the 1999 Nipah virus outbreak disrupted Singapore's Malaysian live pig supply base and chain, Singapore has shifted from a warm pork market with a small frozen pork market to a market that is a mix of fresh/chilled and frozen pork.

Imports of fresh/chilled and frozen pork increased dramatically after the Nipah virus hit Singapore's supply of live pigs from Malaysia. For a short period of time between 1999 and 2002, imported fresh/chilled pork dominated the market. Since 2003, the general trend has been:

  • a consistent growth in imports of frozen pork; and,
  • a gradual decline in imports of fresh/chilled pork.

These trends exist in a market that has continued to grow in terms of total imports. Singapore has shifted towards a market where frozen pork is the dominant product (see Chart below).

Long Term Imports of Pork Meat to Singapore – 1998 to 2009

Imports - Pork Meat: Description of this image follows.
Description

Long Term Imports of Pork Meat to Singapore – 1998 to 2009: Imports of fresh/chilled and frozen pork increased dramatically after the Nipah virus hit Singapore’s supply of live pigs from Malaysia. For a short period of time between 1999 and 2002, imported fresh/chilled pork dominated the market. Since 2003, the general trend has been a consistent growth in imports of frozen pork; and a gradual decline in imports of fresh/chilled pork

Source: Singapore's External Trade Statistics

This change in market scenario has not yet stopped and it is expected that it will continue to evolve on the back of further changes in Singapore consumer society consumption and usage habits. The earlier mentioned "Eat Well For Less, Choose Frozen Meat" program is likely to be some form of long term stimulus for this trend to continue into the long term.

Trade sources comment that many of Singaporean younger "mass market" shoppers have not experienced the warm pork environment of the past and the above mentioned government funded campaign has introduced consumers to new concepts. One thing that has not changed since 1998 is the status of pork as an entrenched staple meat, which must be value-for-money, for the majority of the population.


8. Key suppliers and their market shares

8.2 The key players in the market for imported meat and poultry

Canada is the market leader in frozen bone-in pork. According to trade sources, products, such as imported pork ribs and chops, have relatively low level demand in Singapore. Such imports are mainly used by western restaurants. One challenge for such products lies in the increasing number of such outlets seeking halal certification and so dropping pork items from their menus.

The Table below provides an overview of the identity of the key supply countries in all markets.

Product Category Imports in 2008 (C$ ‘000) Imports in 2008 (Tonnes) Leading Players and Their Market Shares * Market Leader Leading Players and Their Market Shares * 2nd Place Leading Players and Their Market Shares * 3rd Place
Fresh/chilled beef bone-in 2,614 273 Australia (70%) New Zealand (29%) -
Fresh/chilled beef, boneless 39,334 2,900 Australia (59%) New Zealand (31%) USA (10%)
Frozen beef, bone-in 5,133 2,364 Australia (81%) New Zealand (19%)
Frozen beef, boneless 73,870 16,220 Brazil (54%) Australia (27%) New Zealand (15%)
Fresh/chilled pork carcasses 54,506 13,549 Australia (100%) - -
Fresh/chilled pork, bone-in 1,712 359 Australia (99%) New Zealand (1%) -
Fresh/chilled pork, boneless 11,401 2,169 Australia (98%) Canada (1%) USA (1%)
Frozen pork carcasses 6,600 769 China (78%) Netherlands (11%) Brazil (5%)
Frozen pork, bone-in 1,714 652 Canada (24%) USA (23%) Brazil (16%)
Frozen pork, boneless 146,912 47,086 Brazil (46%) USA (18%) Canada (8%)
Frozen chicken parts 210,674 85,057 Brazil (73%) USA (26%) Malaysia (1%)

*: Based on tonnes imported from these countries.
Source: Derived from Singapore's External Trade Statistics

Country Leading Position Strengths
Australia Fresh/chilled pork Has a strong brand / very good reputation at both B2C and B2B levels, which is periodically supported by A&P activities. Its system of exporting carcasses rather than pork cuts facilitates meeting very closely with Singaporean consumer demand for fresh/chilled products and specific cuts. Reasonable pricing and a very effective supply chain and strong relationships with major retailers (main supplier to retailer brands) also underpin its market leading status.
Australia Fresh/chilled beef Is Singapore's preferred supplier of fresh/chilled beef to the middle and upper income group, with solid relationships to importers, retailers and food service businesses with demand for its beef. Its strategy revolves around "Australia the brand" and some specific premium and super premium brands owned by Australian producers and exporters. Its relationships with retailers assist in entrenching some of its brands in the market.
Brazil Frozen beef Has solid import contacts and dominates the market for halal mass market value-for-money beef, whether in the consumer segment or in food service.
Brazil Frozen pork Has solid import contacts and dominates the market for value-for-money pork for use by the meat processing industry, the food service industry and for retail sale.
Brazil Frozen chicken parts. Meets very closely with Singapore demand for value-for-money chicken wings, chicken leg meat and chicken legs for use by the mid to low end food service market and for retail sale. Has several key brands (likely, a brand overload) in the market all fighting for market shares through market access strengths and price competition. Retail distribution is very broad based ranging from low income outlets to premium level supermarkets.
China Frozen pork carcasses Value-for-money supply of suckling pigs in line with the demands of Singapore food service buyers.
USA Fresh/chilled boneless beef Is a strong niche player with limited market access. Tends to use a generic "country of origin" grain-fed beef brand rather than company brands, although Certified Angus Beef" from the USA is being actively promoted. USMEF has active market development programs in Singapore. Has a good reputation, although somewhat tainted by the BSE outbreak.
USA Frozen pork Mainly a food service supplier with some retail channel involvement. Generally, uses a country of origin brand in the consumer and food service industry. USMEF has active market development programs in Singapore.
USA Frozen chicken parts Is a strong player in food service and in the segments of the retail market where it differentiates its products from that of Brazil. Corporate brands, e.g. Tyson, are mainly involved in developing the market, with some marketing program support from the U.S. poultry and egg industry association.
New Zealand Fresh/chilled beef and pork, and frozen beef Is a niche player in all areas that it operates, which include organics for both beef and pork. Has a high level reputation as a meat supplier, but Singapore is comparatively small, so it is not a major focus for its exporters. Tends to use company brands and strong relationships to importers seeking to handle New Zealand origin niche products. Is a commodity player in the frozen beef market with low end cuts.

9. Conclusion for Canada and its exporters

9.1 The Singapore meat and poultry market and forecast development trends over the next 5 years

The Singapore meat and poultry market is mature, relative to other markets in Southeast Asia. Singapore's population is generally affluent and meat and poultry are staples for most, if not all, of the population. Per-capita consumption reflects this and is relatively stable with no significant growth trends in evidence over the past 5 years.

While this is the scenario in the market, there has been significant growth in the volume of meat and poultry that has been imported over the past 5 years. This characteristic of the market has been underpinned by a surge in resident population over this period.

This surge was related to new government inward immigration and foreign worker policies, which saw Singapore's total population increase to 4.988 million persons in 2009, up from 4.167 million in 2004.

The trade does not expect the population to grow at the same rate over the next 5 years. The government's original target of 5 million persons will be met at some stage in 2010/2011 and there is some criticism from Singaporeans over the rapid pace of inward migration, whether on a permanent or temporary basis.

A 6 million person population has also been discussed in the past, but it now appears unlikely that there will be an aggressive push to reach this population size over the next 5 years or so. The latest policy statements from the government indicate that the next phase of economic growth will focus on productivity, and not population growth.

The growth scenario for the imported meat and poultry market over next 5 years will therefore involve much lower growth rates than over the past 5 years. Forecasts range from 3% to 7% per annum for increases in volumes of beef, pork and chicken, rather than double digit rates of growth.

There is generally a belief that value growth could be higher than volume growth because meat and poultry prices will be higher over the next 2 to 3 years. Price increases are now being forecast because of meat shortages across the world, higher oil and freight prices and the weaker state of the Singapore Dollar against major currencies.

As Singapore has developed demand for meat and poultry and is a price taker, its market will likely accept higher meat and poultry prices, as it did in the last price boom in 2008. Having stated this, there is a strong prospect that there could be an even bigger shift away from fresh/chilled meat to frozen meat at the level of the mass market into the long term.

9.2 Opportunities for Canadian exporters of meat and poultry

The main area of opportunity for Canadian exporters in terms of higher volume and values of exports will continue to be in the pork market, which is staple in nature at all levels.

While latent opportunities for a well differentiated and supported Canadian brand of beef exist, these opportunities are constrained for Canada because of:

  • the regulatory environment for beef, which is rather finicky and sensitive to all issues that revolve around BSE and its long term impact in the cattle/beef industry and markets; and,
  • competition, which is dominated by countries that are perceived by the market as "truly safe", i.e. Australia and its brands, the fresh/chilled market leader, and New Zealand, the niche player. Australia also benefits from its proximity and lower freight costs.

Brazil can be added into the competitive scenario in the frozen beef market, where is it is the leader. The USA, which is "back in the beef market", would also feature as a competitor for Canada because of the USMEF's aggressive marketing activities in the food service and retail channels for grain-fed beef; and,

  • the growing demand for halal beef, because of changing scenarios in the Muslim population (higher disposable incomes), food service industry (more halal certified chains and outlets) and more Muslim tourists in Singapore, e.g. from Indonesia.

Overall, it is unlikely that substantial opportunities will exist in Singapore for Canadian frozen chicken parts, unless something happens to change the current status quo in this market, i.e. dominance by Brazil, targeted supply by the USA, and their ability to supply high volumes of product at a low market entry price.

Brazil also has very strong relationships with retailers and distributors in Singapore, which includes OEM packing of retailer labeled products. These two countries dominate this market and are very powerful players in it. This situation marginalizes less powerful exporters and supply countries, e.g. Canada, to a sideline position in this market.

There is little, if any room, for differentiated imported frozen chicken because:

  • fresh/chilled chicken is available from local slaughterhouses in high volumes, and is an entrenched staple for the bulk of Singaporeans who consume meat;
  • fresh/chilled chicken is generally preferred by consumers and frozen chicken is considered by many shoppers as the "cheap alternative to be avoided"; and,
  • demand for frozen chicken parts is underpinned by commodity demand for the lowest price product that can comply with Singapore's food and import regulations. A number of Brazilian brands are reinforcing this trading environment through active price competition between them in both food service supply (extremely important for frozen chicken parts) and retail channels.

Based on the changes that have been seen since 1999, the trends in imports of fresh/chilled and frozen pork since 2003, and the potential impact of the above drivers, there is a possibility that the market can be further segmented by its key suppliers, including Canadian exporters. If so, this will provide opportunities for new strategies, brands and products.

Canadian producers with other products related to opportunities in the markets profiled in this report, and who would like more market information or contacts, may contact the Agri-Food Trade Commissioner at the High Commission of Canada in Singapore at: spore-td@international.gc.ca.