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Coronavirus

Fragile ASEAN food supply chains creak under strain of pandemic

Lockdowns and export curbs lead to scrawny chickens and shortage fears

A supermarket in Singapore in mid-March: The city-state's government has repeatedly assured consumers that food will not run out, but that does not mean supplies are immune to disruption.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- The chickens supplied by Toh Thye San Farm have shrunk. They used to weigh in at 2 kg, but now they yield only around 1.3 kg of meat.

The Singaporean outfit simply lacks the manpower to nurture bigger birds, since Malaysia locked itself down to curb the spread of the coronavirus. As workers are unable to cross the border, the food supplier has seen its operating capacity decline by around 30%, according to Kenny Toh, head of projects at the family-run farm.

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