Demand for shark's fin takes a sharp dip
SALES of shark's fin are down sharply, along with wholesale prices, as more Singaporeans say no to the traditional delicacy.
Estimates indicate that between 2011 and last year, domestic sales of shark's fin to hotels and restaurants fell by nearly a third to about 5,000kg.
In addition, wholesale prices have fallen in the past year, by 30 to 50 per cent. A blue shark's processed fin now commands about $150 to $200 per kilogram; the unprocessed equivalent costs between $40 and $60.
The figures were provided by Mr Yio Jin Xian, a representative of the Marine and Land Products Association and the general manager of shark's-fin supplier Chin Guan Hong.
"Sales started to slow down last year," he told The Straits Times. "Some hotels have stopped buying. For those that are still serving, and restaurants, sales figures have more or less remained stable."
Conservation concerns are the key reason for the drop in demand, with several hotels striking shark's-fin soup off their menus.
At least three hotels - Regent Singapore, Hilton Singapore and Swissotel Merchant Court - have stopped serving the dish since last year, joining some 11 others that had already done so. Other hotels, such as the Singapore Marriott, will be rolling out a fin-free a la carte menu by year end.
Said Grand Hyatt executive chef Lucas Glanville, whose hotel removed the dish from the menu in March last year and serves it only on request: "Even five years ago, people would laugh if you said you wanted to remove shark's fin from the menu. Now, the hotel receives only minimal requests."
Mr Rainer Tenius, the general manager of Swissotel Merchant Court, which stopped serving the dish in July last year, said this "growing awareness of sustainable development" is especially evident in young couples.
At The Sentosa, where only 1 per cent of wedding banquets served shark's-fin soup last year, general manager Ian Ekers said some couples even include a note to inform their guests that shark's-fin soup will not be served "in support of shark conservation".
At Hotel Fort Canning and Singapore Marriott Hotel, where shark's fin is still served, demand for the dish at wedding banquets has dropped by at least 20 per cent, over the past five years and the past year, respectively.
Major restaurants such as Jumbo Seafood, TungLok and Paradise Group declined to reveal demand trends. But at Crystal Jade, vice-president of corporate communications and marketing Stella To acknowledged that there has been a "year-to-year...decrease in demand".
However, Mr Yio does not believe that shark's fin will completely lose its place on the banquet table.
He said: "It is still a profitable business. We just have to show people that fins can be harvested sustainably. Hopefully, that will arrest the decline in demand."
THE STRAITS TIMES