How the Russia-Ukraine war is making your plate of orh luak more expensive

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Singapore

Publishing organisation: The Straits Times

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-05-08

Language: English

Authors: Alyssa Karla Mariano Mungcal (Digital graphics designer)
Charlene Chua (Digital graphics journalist)
Charles Tampus (Data visualisation developer)
Jordan Lee Jun Hao (Video producer)
Leonard Lai (Assistant editor)
Rebecca Pazos (Data visualisation editor)
Stephanie Adeline (Digital graphics journalist)
Sylvia Quek (Intern)
Spe Chen (Digital graphics journalist)
T Kumar (Videographer)
T Kemburaju (Videographer)
Xaquín G.V. (Digital graphics consultant)


The Straits Times digital graphics team is a multi-disciplinary team focused on creating high-quality data-driven and visuals projects for editorial. Our audience are mostly Singaporeans from all walks of life, so we balance innovation and functionality for all of our projects.

Project description:

This project explored the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war on the price one of Singapore’s local dishes, the orh luak, or fried Oyster omelette. The interactive investigates which ingredient is causing the price hike, and explains how else the war is disrupting supply chains.

Impact reached:

This project won best cross media project of the quarter, in ST’s quarterly newscomm awards that seeks to recognise projects that have done well during that period. It was also well received by the public for its innovative way of breaking down supply chain issues caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, in a way that was relateable for our average reader.

Techniques/technologies used:

For the introduction, we used a scrolly to introduce the ingredients individually, while inviting readers to take a guess on which ingredient is driving up the prices of the dish. We took inspiration from cooking videos and came up with a storyboard of different types of shots – top down angle, wide shot, close ups. Then we edited them in Adobe Premiere Pro to add in some graphical elements such as the mini bar charts on screen, and the split screen to show the different types of shots side by side.

Context about the project:

The hardest part would be to decide on the sequence which the ingredients would be introduced. For the visuals, we had wanted it to be in the order of what the cooking process would be in real life: Oil > Eggs > Green Onion > Oysters, as this would allow the cooking process to be revealed in a sequential way. However, for the narrative, we needed eggs to be introduced last because it is the main ingredient driving cost up, and it would make the flow of the narrative better by using eggs to lead into the rest of the story.

Eventually, we decided to prioritise the narrative while finding an alternative way for the visuals, which was to use close up shots of the ingredients in between, so that it didn’t feel like the overall cooking process was not sequential.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

We were able to explain an otherwise mundane (yet important) topic about how supply chains were being impacted by the Russia-Ukraine war, through a local dish like the fried oyster omelette. Through our choice of words and narrative device (the scrolly), we were able to make an event that was spatially far away from Singapore, relevant and relatable for our average reader.

Apart from the interactive, the video team also did a short video explainer for this story. It was a collaborative effort working across desks, and was interesting to see how different teams could have different takes/angles on the same subject.

Project links: