5th January 2023

Local Farms’ Great Alternatives to Imported Produce


Singapore has a population edging close to 6 million. Yet, it covers a geographical area of only 733 square kilometres. As only 1% of our land area is used for agricultural purposes, it’s not surprising that we produce less than 10% of the food we consume and rely mostly on imports. Bolstering food security is therefore understandably high on the list of priorities for the nation. Inflation, supply chain shocks, and rising prices can all be highly disruptive to Singapore’s food supply. We’re already tackling the issue with initiatives that encourage our farmers to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030, but we can also support better food security by choosing local where possible. So, what are our top imported produce and what local produce alternatives are there for us?


Top Imported Produce & Source Countries

Singapore relies on imports from top trading partners like Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, and various countries around Asia including:

  • Malaysia – Singapore imports more than half its eggs, around 40% of its fruits and vegetables, 34% of its chicken, and 25% of its seafood from its neighbour Malaysia.
  • Brazil – Singapore buys more pork, chicken, and beef from Brazil than any other country, with 39% to 58% of such meats sourced from the Latin American country.
  • Australia – Australia is Singapore’s biggest supplier of mutton, with 90% of the meat coming from down under. Singapore also gets 22% of its beef from Australia.
  • China – China supplies Singapore with 27% of its vegetables and 13% of its fruits.
  • Indonesia – Singapore sources around 17% of its seafood from Indonesia.
  • Vietnam – Vietnam supplies around 15% of Singapore’s seafood.


Local Produce Alternatives

While imports will likely constitute the majority of Singapore’s food supply for the foreseeable future, local produce offer attractive alternatives. These include a good variety of locally-farmed fish, eggs, vegetables, and mushrooms.


1. Fish

Singapore has 121 fish farms, and our aquaculture industry produces a variety of fresh fish. While locally-farmed fish account for only around 10% of our annual total consumption of fish, they offer a great alternative to other animal proteins, especially red meat. When farmed efficiently, fish may require less water than land-based proteins like beef, thus contributing towards environmental sustainability.

Compared with other proteins like beef, lamb and pork which tend to be higher in saturated fats, fish is one of the healthiest options. It’s high in Omega 3, Vitamin D, and protein while low in saturated fats.

If you’re choosing fish, why not aim for locally-farmed fish? The different types of locally-farmed fish in Singapore include:

  • Australian Jade Perch – This Singapore-farmed fish is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, making it a great alternative to imported fish like mackerel and salmon. Australian Jade Perch has a smooth and delicate texture that lends it well to steaming and baking.
  • Barramundi – Barramundi is low in fat, high in Omega 3 and protein, and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Versatile and delicious, this white fish has a light, flaky texture.
  • Grey Mullet – The Grey Mullet is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, niacin, and selenium. Its succulent grey meat flakes easily after cooking and makes it suitable for everything from pan-frying to steaming and grilling.
  • Red Snapper – Red Snapper is a delicious fish that’s rich in Omega 3, Vitamins A, D and E and essential minerals such as calcium, selenium, and magnesium. Its red skin and pinkish meat has a firm texture, delicate sweet flavour, and is ideal for grilling, baking, and pan-frying.
  • Red Tilapia – Rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and selenium, Red Tilapia’s medium-firm texture is excellent for steaming, baking, and grilling.

You can buy locally-farmed fish from ACE FishMarket, BluCurrent, Fin by BOAT, Kuhlbarra, and The Fish Farmer at e-SG Farmers’ Market: bit.ly/e-sgfm

Check out some of these recipes to incorporate more locally-farmed fish into your diet:

2. Eggs

Eggs provide high-quality protein in a low-calorie and low-cost form. They’re extremely nutritious, offering valuable nutrients like iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids, and are also lower in saturated fat compared to other animal proteins like beef, lamb, and pork.

Singapore’s chicken egg farms produce a wide variety of eggs high in Vitamin E and Omega 3. We also have locally-farmed quail eggs, which are high in riboflavin, Vitamin B12, selenium, and choline.

So, when choosing eggs, why not buy locally-farmed eggs? Apart from the regular fresh eggs, other types of locally-farmed eggs available include:

  • Carrot Eggs – These come from hens fed with alfalfa or marigold petals, yielding egg yolks with higher lutein content.
  • Corn Eggs – Corn eggs come from hens fed with premium quality corn, and the result is eggs that are high in protein and richer in nutrients compared to normal eggs.
  • Pasteurized Eggs – These have the same nutritional benefits as regular eggs but have been pasteurised to eliminate dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and Bird Flu virus.
  • Eggs with Omega 3 – Eggs enriched with Omega 3 are typically produced by hens which are fed a diet that’s supplemented with an Omega 3 source like flax seeds. Such eggs may have as much as five times the Omega 3 content as conventional eggs.
  • Eggs with Vitamin E – Eggs enriched with Vitamin E are a good source of antioxidants. These eggs come from hens which are fed a diet fortified with Vitamin E.

Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients you can have in your kitchen. You can eat whole eggs, just the yolk, or just the egg whites. As an egg dish on your menu, they can be served soft boiled, half boiled, hard boiled, poached, fried, scrambled or steamed. They can be incorporated into fried noodles, fried rice, soups, salads and whatever other dishes your imagination takes you, even in coffee or hot chocolate!

Eggs can be used in savoury or sweet dishes, eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper or as a healthy snack in between meals. They are also a key ingredient in many foods such as cakes, custard, quiche, French toast, pancakes, ice cream and many more.

Eggs can make your dish more robust or interestingly on the other end of the spectrum, they can be used as an egg raft to clarify your stock or broth.

Singapore currently has 3 egg farms which can provide you with your ready supply of eggs. Together, they provide 30% of our annual total consumption of eggs. You can buy locally-farmed eggs from Chew’s Agriculture, N & N Agriculture, and Seng Choon at e-SG Farmers’ Market: bit.ly/e-sgfm

Looking to incorporate more locally-farmed eggs into your diet? Here are several tasty recipes to inspire you:


3. Vegetables

While we currently import most of our vegetables, our farmers grow a wide variety of fresh greens and herbs. Rosemary, basil, and mint, along with Japanese cai xin and pesticide-free salad mixes provide a range of essential vitamins and minerals as well as health-protecting compounds like polyphenols. Other locally-grown greens include cos lettuce, red bayam, kale, Japanese komatsuna, spinach, rocket, and kang kong. Our farmers also grow organic greens, hydroponic greens, and greens in vertical gardens, which means you can support innovative farming techniques as well as local produce.

Looking for something other than leafy greens? Our local vegetables also include bean sprouts, pea sprouts, chemical-free sprouts, and organic sprouts. Sprouts are high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, beta carotene, and Vitamin K. You can also buy locally-grown aloe vera, which is high in antioxidants and a range of vitamins and minerals.

Singapore’s farmed vegetables contain certain essential vitamins and nutrients, such as Vitamin A, C, K, iron, and others, as outlined below:

  • Basil – Basil is high in Vitamin K and comes in different varieties like Sweet Basil, Thai Basil, and Genovese Basil.
  • Bean Sprouts – This sweet and juicy shoot is rich in Vitamins C and K.
  • Cai Xin – This Chinese flowering cabbage is rich in potassium along with Vitamins A and C.
  • Kale – This super vegetable is packed with a range of minerals and Vitamins A, B6, C, and K.
  • Kang Kong – This delicious vegetable is high in potassium, Vitamin A, and iron.
  • Lady’s Fingers – Also known as Okra, Lady’s Fingers are high in minerals and Vitamins C and K.
  • Lettuce – This versatile and widely-used vegetable is a source of folate, niacin and Vitamin C.
  • Pea Sprouts – These sprouted seeds of the pea plant are rich in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and Vitamins C and K.
  • Spinach – Spinach, also known as Bayam, is rich in Vitamins A, C, K and is a good source of folate.
  • Xiao Bai Cai – Also known as Pak Choy, this crunchy vegetable is rich in folate and Vitamins B6, C, and K.

With the variety available, why not try eating more Singapore-grown vegetables? You can buy locally-farmed vegetables from Bean Farm, Comcrop, Just Produce, Kin Yan, Kok Fah, Leafy Me, Little Red Farm, Quan Fa Organic Farm, Red Dot Farm, Sustenir, Vege Magic, Vegeponcs, VertiVegies, and Yili at e-SG Farmers’ Market: bit.ly/e-sgfm

Looking for a way to incorporate more greens and herbs into your meals? Check out these recipes:


4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms offer an excellent range of vitamins and minerals, and is a good source of B vitamins, antioxidants, beta-glucan, copper, and potassium, all of which are very beneficial to our overall health.

High in fibre, low in calories, fat-free and cholesterol-free, mushrooms come in a variety of tastes and textures. This makes them good alternatives to meat and even seafood. The resemblance in flavour to meat relates to the presence of similar constituents, in particular, the non-essential amino acids glutamic and aspartic acids. These give mushrooms the dark and meaty flavour known as Umami. So, if you want to reduce your consumption of meat, consider using mushrooms in your recipes instead.

The variety of locally-farmed mushrooms include:

  • Golden Spring Mushrooms – High in protein and amino acids, these mushrooms come with an irresistible velvety texture, and can be braised, sauteed or stewed, and added to soups, sauces, and pastas.
  • King Oyster Mushrooms – Like other oyster mushrooms, the huge King Oyster Mushroom is loaded with fibre, vitamins, and minerals, especially niacin and Vitamin B5. It offers a thick and chewy texture not unlike squid or scallop, and is best eaten stir-fried. Low in carbohydrates, it is a good choice for low-carb diets.
  • Golden Oyster Mushrooms – Golden Oyster Mushrooms are tasty and rich in beta-glucan which helps to strengthen the immune system.
  • Golden Cup Mushrooms – This mushroom is high in protein and essential minerals such as molybdenum and zinc, and comes with a crispy and creamy texture like bamboo shoots.
  • QQ Mushrooms – The QQ Mushroom offers a range of essential amino acids, proteins, vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Sweet and delicious, this versatile mushroom is thick and plump, has a tender and juicy texture like chicken, can be cooked in many different ways, and can be eaten alone or with vegetables, fish, and other dishes.
  • Pink Oyster Mushrooms – Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including niacin, Vitamin D, and iron, the Pink Oyster Mushroom has a thin yet meaty flesh that tastes like bacon or ham when well cooked.

You can buy locally-farmed mushrooms from Kin Yan, a pesticide-free farm, at e-SG Farmers’ Market: bit.ly/e-sgfm

If you’re looking for ideas to include more mushrooms into your meals, check out these recipes:


5. Goat Milk

Often considered the best alternative to mother’s milk, goat milk is a better choice than cow milk for several reasons. Goat milk is lower in lactose, easier to digest, and less likely to trigger milk allergies. It’s also higher in protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium as shown in the comparison below:

Goat Milk (1 cup) Cow Milk (1 cup)
·        Protein 9 g 8 g
·        Calcium 327 mg 276 mg
·        Magnesium 34.2 mg 24.4 mg
·        Phosphorus 271 mg 205 mg
·        Potassium 498 mg 322 mg

Hay Dairies is Singapore’s only goat farm. You can buy locally-farmed pasteurised and homogenised goat milk in plain or chocolate flavours from Hay Dairies at e-SG Farmers’ Market: bit.ly/e-sgfm

Want to incorporate goat milk into your meals? Try this flavoursome recipe for an easy-to-make yet delicious goat cheese.


Why We Should Choose Local Produce

Singapore’s local produce offer some excellent alternatives to imported produce. Whether it’s proteins like fish and eggs, or vegetables and mushrooms, our local farms supply fresh, quality, and safe produce we can use in our meals every day, to create healthy, delicious meals for the whole family.

Furthermore, as local produce are not transported over long distances, they tend to be fresher and more nutrient dense. The safety of local produce is also assured as they are subject to strict farming and food safety regulations.

So, choose local produce – it’s not only better for us, it’s also one of the ways we can help Singapore become more self-sufficient and food secure because it’s only when demand for local produce increases that our farmers will be able to produce more. In addition, choosing local means lower food miles, and with the cutting-edge techniques our farmers are using, local produce can be less water- and resource-intensive to produce, so buying local is also more sustainable and better for the environment.

To buy local produce, simply shop at SAFEF’s e-SG Farmers’ Market – the one-stop shop for local produce from our own farms: bit.ly/e-sgfm


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