Singapore's largest supermarket chain will stop selling shark fin products from April after an inflammatory comment by one of its suppliers triggered calls for a boycott from activists and the public.
NTUC FairPrice -- a cooperative run by the city-state's national trades union -- made the announcement Thursday after receiving hundreds of complaints.
The uproar was sparked by one of the chain's shark fin suppliers which made the comment "Screw the divers!" in an online promotional message for a new product to be launched at FairPrice outlets during the upcoming Lunar New Year.
The comment, apparently directed at divers campaigning against the shark fin trade, went viral on Facebook and microblogging site Twitter. Many of the reactions advocated a boycott of the supplier and FairPrice.
In a statement, FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said the chain was ceasing sales of shark fin products by the end of March. "This will be the last Chinese New Year in which customers can buy shark fin products at all our stores," said Seah.
Jennifer Lee, founder of Project Fin, a local group campaigning to reduce shark fin consumption, welcomed the supermarket chain's decision.
"It is encouraging to see FairPrice respond promptly to the public reaction. They can progress further by selling only sustainable food," she told AFP on Friday. Online commentators were also quick to praise the decision. "Thank you for putting sharks and the health of your customers before profit!," wrote "Shannon Veganista" on FairPrice's Facebook page.
Shark fin remains a sought after delicacy in the affluent Southeast Asian state, where it is largely served at Chinese festive celebrations and wedding receptions.
According to conservation group WWF, Singapore is the second largest shark fin trading centre after Hong Kong.
WWF-Hong Kong says the consumption of shark fins is a driving factor behind the threat to shark populations, with more than 180 species considered threatened in 2010 compared to only 15 in 1996.
In September last year, Cold Storage became the first supermarket chain in Singapore to stop shark fin sales as part of a collaboration with the WWF, local media reported.