Digital tech as solution to food importers’ plight?

I have been following the Bulletin’s Opinion Page closely since ‘Local food producers, importers need to work hand in hand’ by Dr S was published on July 29.

Then the responses from A Consumer on August 5 and Duck Restaurateur on August 8 got me thinking about the challenges faced by meat importers, especially those that import processed beef and chicken products.

It is very unfortunate that their businesses have to suffer due to countless measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as restricting Halal food inspectors from witnessing the slaughtering and the processing of meat products. As such, importation of these meat products has been halted.

I believe there is a workaround to this situation. In the age of digital technology, it is possible to witness the process by proxy or have the inspections done via video call without compromising the “Halal-ness” of the products. As a matter of fact, it might provide an opportunity to enhance our IT capabilities.

It was noted by Dr S that if temporary solutions were not found soon, these companies would cease to exist. What I fear more is the domino effect that ensues. If the importers were forced to fold their businesses, staff members would find themselves unemployed, shop lots left unoccupied and bank loans left unpaid.

I urge the authorities to take the plight of these food importers seriously. It’s not just about some businesses facing bankruptcy, their failures would affect our whole economy too.