Singapore restaurants are trying new recipes and turning to local produce amid supply disruptions

SINGAPORE: More restaurants in Singapore are changing their menus from trying new recipes to switching to locally grown produce as rising costs and shortages continue to affect their supplies.

Some fruit and vegetable distributors have seen a 30% drop in supplies from exporters. The prices of these items have also tripled.

Mr. Desmond Lim, Marketing Manager at Lim Thiam Chwee Food Supplier, pointed out that some countries have not yet fully opened up since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They still have a lot of intermittent lockdowns, workers not going to work or unable to work, and entire businesses temporarily suspended,” he added. “So this has led to a great shortage of labor in exporting countries.”

Such supply chain disruptions are not going away anytime soon, Lim said.

“All we can do is accept what it is, work with what we have and adapt accordingly.”


One particular item that has been lacking is the padi chilli.

Mr Lim’s business was only able to get half its usual supply of chilli padi – and at triple the cost.

Thailand, where it mainly gets its padi chili, is struggling with labor shortages and rising fertilizer prices, Lim said, adding that he expects these problems to persist until at the end of the year.

Some catering players have had no choice but to absorb the resulting additional costs or to modify their menus.

Hug Cafe, a Thai restaurant on Alexandra Road, had to redesign its menu, after cutting its order of papayas by 20% to cut overhead.

Cafe chef Mr Brendon Lim said his Thai supplier was making limited trips to Singapore.

“So we can only order this amount per week because if we order too much the vegetables will spoil or the papayas will ripen because we use raw papayas for the papaya salad,” he added.

If an ingredient is not available, the cafe will adjust its menu, said its chef, Mr Lim.

“We brainstorm from time to time. Of course, these challenges cannot be avoided. So we would like to have different alternatives to each dish we prepare.

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Rozella J. Cook