CLIMATE, FUEL AND INFLATION INCREASE COSTS
“Fishermen today tend to fish less,” said Mr. Eric Lee, owner of Lee Chuan Seng Fishery. “There are less fish in the sea these days; (there are) less and less, you can see that’s pretty obvious.”
Decreasing commercial fishing catches have made the situation worse, with the fishery citing climate change as a contributor to unpredictable supply.
“Today, it is difficult to predict the harvest. Maybe because of global warming. Previously, it was certain months that you would get certain fish, but today we cannot predict,” said Mr. Daniel Pe, Chairman of Punggol Fish Merchants Association.
The costs were even higher for Indonesian fishermen this month when fuel prices, already on the rise since the war in Ukraine, rose by about 30% as the government limited energy subsidies.
“If the monsoon is too strong, (fishermen) do not go out so as not to waste diesel. When the monsoon comes, we can’t fish,” said Mr Lee, who added that this contributed to increased expenses as traders still have to cover utility and labor costs, but have less fish to sell.
Some consumers have turned to cheaper options, such as frozen or farm-raised fish. Inflation is more evident for more expensive fish, as the price difference seems substantial, said Alfred Goh, owner of Guang’s Fresh Mart.
“Over a long period, you realize that there has been a significant price increase. It’s probably worse for hot items like snapper, mackerel, cod, and salmon. These have seen a much larger and more significant price increase compared to cheaper fish like kembong, kuning and sea bass,” Mr Goh said.
In Mr Goh’s shop, salmon now sells for S$30 to S$40 a kilogram, about S$10 more than before, while cod costs nearly S$50 a kilogram, up from nearly S$40. Singaporean dollars in the past.
“So you see consumers turning to cheaper varieties of fish. Because I think during these days when it’s global inflation, everyone is feeling the pinch,” Mr Goh said.
FISH ALSO FEEL THE PINCH
Fish mongers at Geylang Serai market told CNA they are placing fewer orders for more expensive varieties such as red snapper, which can cost around S$12 a kilogram. Instead, they placed more orders for cheaper options like Indian mackerel, which costs around S$7 a kilogram.
“Fish supply has been very unstable lately, prices are fluctuating day by day,” Mr Goh said. “For more expensive items, everyone orders less. If you go around the markets, all the fishmongers order more of the cheaper items.
Mr Goh said some companies absorb rising costs in the early stages but pass the costs on to consumers once it is no longer sustainable.
“We have absorbed the increasing costs in terms of delivery, all along the supply chain, and to the point where it is no longer affordable. And then we have to revise our prices upwards to take into account all these (spending) increases,” Mr. Goh said.
While some suppliers are asking merchants for a 15-20% price increase to even out fuel costs, some industry players are adapting by diversifying their sources of fish and seeking suppliers from other countries like Thailand. , India and Myanmar. , said Mr. Pe.
PRICE ON TREND UP UNTIL CHINESE NEW YEAR
As the monsoon season approaches, fish prices are expected to soar even higher, until after the holiday period in late January, industry players have said.
“If the rainy season persists, and I mean, you know we’re experiencing global warming, the weather is really unstable. So if this persists, we expect prices to rise, I think potentially another 10-15% probably over the next two months,” Mr Goh said.
The price of white snapper is expected to rise by around 10% during the monsoon period, with mackerel likely to rise by around 30%, Lee said.
“Once the monsoon season is over, it’s holiday season. So, as year-end demand is expected to be better, prices are unlikely to fall,” Goh said.
“Once the New Year is over, I think maybe once the Chinese New Year is over at the end of January, you will generally start to see prices go down.”