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A chicken rice hawker will be temporarily shutting his stall from Saturday (Aug 27) onwards due to monthly losses of $3,000.
The 和記海南鸡飯 (He Ji Hainan Chicken Rice) stall is located in Telok Blangah Hawker Center at 79 Telok Blangah Drive and has been in business since March 2014.
A fan of the stall had posted about its impending closure in the Hawkers United - Dabao 2020 Facebook group and said: "The price of chicken is too high to survive."
When Shin Min Daily News reporters visited the stall, 58-year-old owner Mr Liu confirmed that he is temporarily ceasing operations as Malaysia's chicken export ban has not been lifted.
Mr Liu said he has always been using fresh poultry. When the export ban first kicked in, he shuttered his stall for around two weeks until he could get his hands on fresh kampung chicken.
However, the cost of kampung chicken is much higher, he pointed out.
Mr Liu revealed: "Before, a chicken would go for about $5/kg with each chicken weighing around 1.8kg to 2kg, so the price of one chicken would not be more than $12.
"Now that I'm using kampung chicken, which is usually between 1.4kg and 1.8kg, the price is around $20."
As such, Mr Liu has had to readjust the prices of his chicken rice. A small portion originally priced at $3.50 is now $4, while a large portion has gone up from $4.50 to $5. A whole chicken is now going for $32, up from the original $28.
Mr Liu explained: "The capital cost is too high so I have to increase prices, but I don't dare to raise it too much. If chicken rice is too expensive, it will be very difficult to sell."
Business has fallen by about 40% ever since the export ban was implemented, said Mr Liu. He used to be able to sell at least 20 chickens a day, but can now sell only around 10.
After taking in operating costs, his stall is now making a monthly loss of about $3,000.
Mr Liu learned how to prepare chicken rice when he was 12. During the past 46 years that he has been in business, he has set up shop at various coffee shops and hawker centres in Lorong Ah Soo, Changi Village and Choa Chu Kang, before settling down in Telok Blangah.
The veteran hawker has braved other storms such as the bird flu, SARS and more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.
He recalled how he went from selling dozens of chicken per day to three or five as business plummeted during the bird flu outbreak. At that time, Mr Liu switched to selling bak kut teh.
Now, he has decided to shut his stall temporarily to cut losses.
Will he finally throw in the towel? We hope not.