Supporting Greater Food Resilience for Singapore – Egg Farmer, Ma Chin Chew of N&N Agriculture
Ma Chin Chew didn’t choose to be a farmer. Rather, he was born into a family involved in farming and grew up to embrace his role as a farmer in Singapore. He, therefore, chalks it down to fate that brought him into farming.
Ma’s family was originally involved in chicken farming, and Ma branched out into egg farming in 2006 through an investment in N&N Agriculture. He subsequently took full ownership of N&N in 2010 and went on to achieve many successes for his business.
Some of these include:
- Launching the first and only pasteurized shell eggs in Singapore in 2013;
- Increasing its range of pasteurized egg products to include pasteurized liquid egg, soft yolk eggs, hard-boiled eggs, and poached eggs in 2014, and Tamagoyaki (Japanese egg roll) in 2018;
- Winning the tender to build a new quail egg farm in Singapore in 2019.
To find out more about his journey, we spoke with Ma about his business, his egg products, his recommendations for choosing the freshest eggs, and how he’s contributing to a more food-resilient Singapore.
Supporting Greater Food Resilience for Singapore
Ma first got involved in N&N to help his friend, Chinese national Mr Zhang Tang Zhi, who was the original owner of the farm. As Mr Zhang’s limited product range and business model of relying on wholesalers for the distribution of his fresh shell eggs was not working well in the Singapore market, Ma invested in N&N in 2006 with his vision of turning the company around through a different business model. He eventually bought over the company in 2010 when Mr Zhang decided to sell it.
In the early days, the farm was labour-intensive, with low productivity, and minimal automation and technology deployment. It mainly focused on providing fresh shell eggs to consumers.
Today, N&N Agriculture has come a long way and is highly automated with technology deployment in various areas of operations, from the caring of livestock to egg collection, processing and packing. For example, fully-computerised feed mixing is used to ensure compliance to consistent and optimal feed nutrition for its chicks and hens, cleaning robots are deployed to systematically clean grower houses to eliminate contamination, and automated egg collection is used to ensure the efficient and timely daily collection of fresh eggs. It has also used technology to diversify its production to include a range of pasteurized fresh shell eggs and egg products.
Ma said that it is very challenging trying to be a successful farmer. So what keeps him going? He shared this with us:
“What keeps me motivated is the support of our customers and our government who have the faith and trust in the high quality, food safety, and good value that our products offer.”
Singapore, unfortunately, lacks the natural resources required to produce enough food naturally and is heavily reliant on food imports to meet our needs. The local agricultural sector, though small, plays an important role in ensuring that we are not 100% reliant on overseas food supply for all food products. This was particularly evident in the panic buying triggered by the recent lockdown of the Malaysian border due to Covid-19.
Ma said, “To be able to play a part in contributing to greater food resilience for our nation is a driving force for me. As a farmer, I like having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of locals by being a socially-responsible provider of eggs, which are a basic food item in many local consumers’ diets.”
Fresh and Nutritious Egg Options for Consumers
In his 14 years as an egg farmer, Ma has been passionate about providing consumers in Singapore with a range of locally produced, high-quality eggs that are rich in protein and other nutrients.
According to Ma, eggs are naturally nutritious and contain a host of essential vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin D, which is critical for bone health and immune function;
- Choline, which is essential for normal functioning of all cells, and particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the foetus;
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration;
- High-quality protein, which provides all of the essential amino acids that the human body does not produce.
Ma said, “Besides the nutrition that is naturally present in eggs, some N&N products are enhanced with added nutrients to the hens’ feed, including Omega 3 and 6, and Vitamin E and D3. Furthermore, N&N’s laying flock is not administered any hormones or antibiotics.”
He added that for N&N’s Egg Story brand of pasteurized fresh eggs, the eggs have been stringently pasteurized to kill Salmonella and Bird Flu virus that may be present inside and outside the eggs, hence they offer the assurance of food safety, especially for children, seniors, pregnant ladies, and individuals with lower immunity. N&N also produces a range of pasteurised egg products that are 100% free of preservatives, chemicals and artificial colouring.
Today, N&N produces three different categories of eggs:
- Fresh shell eggs
- Pasteurized fresh shell eggs
- Pasteurized egg products
N&N’s pasteurized range includes the following products:
- Pasteurized liquid egg white, egg yolk, and whole egg
- Pasteurized soft yolk eggs (ramen eggs)
- Pasteurized poached eggs
- Pasteurized hard-boiled eggs
- Tamagoyaki (Japanese egg roll)
Ma’s Tips for Choosing Fresh Eggs and Preparing Delicious Egg Dishes
Ma has a few tips for choosing eggs that are fresh and safe to eat:
- Check the expiry date on the packaging.
- Do a visual check through the transparent egg pack (when possible) to ensure none of the eggs are cracked.
- Purchase eggs from retailers with a fast stock turnover to ensure freshness of the eggs on sale.
- Consider the storage method and display temperature which impact egg freshness when selecting the retailers to purchase fresh eggs from.
- Choose locally produced eggs which are fresher as it takes a shorter time for them to be delivered from local farms to retail outlets.
- Ensure that the local farm is a member of the Singapore Quality Egg Scheme, a quality assurance scheme administered by Singapore Food Agency that ensures local chicken layer farms produce quality shell eggs that are fresh.
In terms of his recommended cooking methods, Ma has plenty to share with us. For fresh shell eggs, he recommends frying, scrambling, baking, poaching, hard- or soft-boiling, as well as using them for ingredients in recipes of varying culinary styles.
Pasteurized fresh shell eggs are ideal for runny-yolk recipes that feature raw or undercooked eggs, such as half-boiled eggs, sunny-side-up eggs, protein shakes, smoothies, and Caesar salad dressing, he suggested.
For more recipe ideas, click here.
Scaling Up to Support Singapore’s Food Security
Local farmers like Ma will play a huge role in supporting and contributing to Singapore’s food security in the coming years.
In terms of the future of N&N Agriculture, CEO Ma has some big plans! N&N is currently building six new layer houses, which will almost double its present production volume by 2021 – 2022. He has also been awarded the tender to build a new quail egg farm, which is targeted for completion by the end of 2021.
Ma remains committed to doing his part for Singapore. He said, “Despite the challenges, I will continue to do my utmost as a Singaporean to support our government’s initiative to achieve the 30-by-30 target to bolster Singapore’s food security.”
Where to Buy N&N and Egg Story Eggs
Luckily for consumers, N&N fresh eggs and Egg Story pasteurized eggs are available through a number of different avenues.
N&N’s fresh shell eggs and Egg Story’s pasteurized fresh shell eggs can be purchased from major supermarkets and online grocers like RedMart, Amazon, EAMART and Qoo10. His pasteurized egg products (like ramen eggs) are available at 7-Eleven, Cheers, selected Shell Select convenience stores, and selected Hao Mart and FairPrice outlets, while Tamagoyaki (the delicious Japanese egg roll) is sold at Gardenasia Bistro at 240 Neo Tiew Crescent, Singapore 718898.
Tip: Look for Egg Story’s pasteurized fresh shell eggs and egg products in the chiller section.
On Ma’s decision to sell his eggs online through e-SG Farmers’ Market on RedMart, he said, “Given the growing popularity of online grocery purchase, fuelled by the current Covid-19 crisis, we are indeed excited about partnering with Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation and RedMart in this e-SG Farmers’ Market initiative!”
To order N&N and Egg Story eggs for yourself, simply go to e-SG Farmers’ Market via this link: bit.ly/e-sgfm.