TL;DR – Good Start for a good start.
The price of formula milk has risen significantly over the last decade. This has added to the strain to couples who have, or are thinking of having, children. That said, there is formula milk. And then there is formula milk. Then there is formula milk. What do we mean?
There are affordable options
FairPrice offers 150 varieties of infant formula from different brands, formulations and pack sizes ranging from $30 to slightly over $100 per tin. Despite the wide range of prices, there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive empirical evidence that the more expensive brand is significantly better for the baby than the more affordable brand.
For instance, some brands offer higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their milk, more is not necessarily better. Studies on the benefits of increased amounts of DHA have not been conclusive. Also, the more expensive brands may not have higher levels of DHA than cheaper brands.
Yet, there are still Singaporeans who buy into the advertising claims made by some formula milk companies. They wrongly believe that more expensive formula milk must be better. Thankfully, there will be changes made to Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) regulations. Once these changes take effect, formula milk manufacturers won’t be able to use nutrition and health claims, as well as images that make drinking formula milk look attractive.
But still can be a strain on finances for some families
So you see that there are options which are more affordable. Even then, there are still some families who may find it difficult to cope with the financial strain resulting from having to buy formula milk for their young children.
For those families, there is help at hand. NTUC FairPrice Foundation has partnered with the five Community Development Councils (CDCs) to set up a new $1.5 million milk fund scheme for children aged between 6 months and 6 years. This fund is expected to benefit up to 7,500 children from low-income families.
In addition, NTUC union members get 20% discount at FairPrice for the 900g Aptamil Gold+ Follow-on Formula Stage 2, Stage 3 and Stage 4. Aptamil is imported from New Zealand. It is currently the number one selling brand in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland and Belgium. Here’s a quick comparison of the prices before and after the discounts:
A baby can easily go through a tin of formula milk in one to two weeks. Some may need even more. So with the discount, a family can save about $500 a year. An NTUC membership costs $117 a year. So just with the formula milk discounts, you get savings of about $400 for your NTUC membership. That’s an annual return on investment (ROI) of 400%. I doubt you can find a legit investment tool that gives you a better ROI.
Good Start for a good start
Those aren’t the only things that FairPrice is doing to help parents. Parents of Singaporean babies born between January last year and December 2019 can receive S$100 worth of baby and family-related products from NTUC FairPrice. The FairPrice FairMily kit, which includes disposable diapers, rice and Danone Nutricia’s Aptamil milk powder.
But… $100… So little.
Wait lah. That’s not all. There is more.
The FairPrice FairMily kit is part of NTUC Good Start Bundle launched last month. In addition to the FairMily kit, the Good Start Bundle also includes complimentary one-year health insurance coverage for newborns under NTUC Income. Other perks will be rolled out along throughout the year.
So… yes… the cost of raising a kid is rising. But there is help at hand. Especially for those who need it most.