Friday, February 08, 2008

Lowering Standards of Living Or?

I spotted this headline on the papers today and discussed briefly about this issue with my father. The headline was something about PM Lee urging Singaporeans to buy frozen pork rather than fresh pork. My first thought was back to the comments made my a certain stupid minister who commented that Singaporeans should adjust our ways of livings to fit in with the economy and not keep complaining that prices are rising everywhere.

Immediately I thought that that was another ploy to get Singaporeans to buy the cheaper frozen pork rather than continue buying more pricey fresh pork and complaining that pork prices are on the rise.

But as my father pointed out, economics somethings is not purely economics. PM Lee's comments might sound like an economic reason, but the politics behind it might just be more profound.

If we look at pork, most of our fresh pork comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, and another bulk of it from Australia. Our frozen pork comes from all over the world, we all know the most *cough cough* place up north where people now have stopped purchasing most food items from, but our frozen pork doesn't just come from the region. Recently Singapore has been getting frozen pork imports from less traditional places such as Brazil and Chile, and it isn't just frozen pork but also frozen chicken and stuff. Indeed, frozen meat is cheaper than fresh ones, but for some types of cooking methods, using a frozen pig and a fresh pig makes little difference. In such a situation, why choose a fresh pig over a less costly one?

It does sound like an economics reason. But if we think deeper into economics theory, remember demand and supply? Fresh pigs are expensive because we don't have pigs in Singapore. If we want to reduce the price of the pigs without reducing demand, we have to try and increase supply, hence the increase in the supply of frozen pigs hoping to spoil the pig markets. Only if there isn't a different market for fresh and frozen pigs can there be such a spoiling of the market to reduce the price of pork.

Ultimately, it isn't just a reduction in price of pigs, but the message being sent out the the neighbouring pig suppliers. We all know the that the main suppliers have also been supplying lots of other stuff to Singapore, and they know that too. To them, they think that Singapore is reliant to them on everything, and hence they think that as long as they want to increase their prices, Singapore will have no choice but to accept it because we are in no position to choose or reject their price increases.

To a certain extent, this is quite true, whenever there are cases of animal diseases outbreak, Singapore suffers a great deal. The last time there was this Nipah virus thingie. I think it was after that incident that Airpork because a household name, well it was also due to advertising, and it was also since then that Airpork became the pork of my choice. I'm quite sure that we can rely on Airpork, but freighting fresh pork in from Australia is definitely much more expensive due to the logistics. So Singaporeans would still choose the cheaper neighbouring fresh pork over the more expensive Airpork. It's like why people choose to go to wet markets rather than supermarkets, cheaper, fresher, and all those other reasons.

Hence, cheaper frozen pork might just be an alterative to cheaper fresh pork if your cooking doesn't call for fresh pork.

Things sometimes are just what they mean at face value, but does have a deeper connotation, that's just a matter of whether you are able to pick it up. I must admit that my first thought is the face value meaning, and needed a little prodding from the father before I realised this whole series of deeper meanings behind those simple words.


AikBoi said...

wait until u hear my conspiracy theory of the fare hikes..

xxoos said...

haha, i'd like to hear it...

Anonymous said...

Actually the real price of frozen pork is more expensive than fresh pork from Indonesia and Australia if you take into account of the nutrition value. Frozen pork is 30% to 50% cheaper than fresh pork. However, when you defrost frozen pork for cooking, 50% to 80% of the nutrients are gone. That is why frozen pork is so bland without the seasoning. So are u getting cheaper products by buying frozen pork? This is something which our AVA did not highlight and most people are not aware of it

xxoos said...

yup, that's why i mentioned about the different cooking methods. for some dishes, fresh pork definitely has to be used, but for others a substitute can be used also. if the dish is going to be heavy on the seasoning or just to provide accompaniment to another ingredient or certain fry dishes and such, then whether it's fresh or frozen makes little difference.

some people also stock up the fresh pork just to bring home and store it in the freezer for a couple of days, which is really duh if you ask me... haha...