TL;DR – If history is any guide, we are in good hands.
Last month, NTUC FairPrice announced that it will be forming the FairPrice Group along with other two of NTUC social enterprises – NTUC Foodfare and Kopitiam.
Like the other NTUC social enterprises, the FairPrice Group will also come under the NTUC Enterprise umbrella.
So, how does it benefit me – a consumer?
In case you don’t already know, the NTUC social enterprises were all set up to serve the interests of all Singaporeans.
The whole idea of forming this FairPrice Group is so that the three entities can come together and continue to moderate the cost of groceries and food for all Singaporeans. By coming together, they can collectively optimise resources and leverage on their respective strengths to achieve maximum impact.
It also aims to cater to consumers’ evolving food-related needs through modern ways while offering better convenience and enhanced experiences for its customers.
Seah Kian Peng, Group CEO of NTUC Enterprise said:
“Harnessing new technologies, the Group also seeks to provide greater convenience and enhance the customer experience. This is a culmination of our ongoing efforts to innovate and transform so that we remain relevant in serving the varied needs of our community.”
Sounds like things can only get better for us, the customers.
Compared to NTUC FairPrice, I am less familiar with the two other social enterprises, namely, Foodfare and Kopitiam. I only know that they’re foodcourts located all over the island, serving affordable cooked food.
But I do know the fact that NTUC FairPrice has risen to the occasion time and again to offer daily essentials at affordable prices.
For the record, here are some of the more significant initiatives by NTUC FairPrice, which sadly, many people refused to don’t seem to remember:
2003: SARS Crisis
During the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, FairPrice helped to pack and deliver food to those who were quarantined and when the Pasir Panjang wholesale market was temporarily closed.
Not only did FairPrice kept the prices of vegetables stable with its prompt response in importing more vegetables from other sources such as Australia, but it also made sure that the public had access to fresh supplies of vegetables by capping the purchase of vegetables per consumer to prevent traders from sweeping the stocks off its racks.
2004: Avian Flu
Remember the bird flu epidemic in 2004 that led to an AVA ban on eggs from Malaysia?
At that time, Singapore encountered an egg shortage which caused the price of eggs to rise sharply.
As a result of the shortage, FairPrice made an unpopular (but necessary) move of restricting the purchase of eggs to help deter traders from buying them in bulk and re-selling them at higher prices.
During the ban, FairPrice also helped to alleviate the egg shortage and moderated the rapid increases in egg price by importing eggs from Australia and New Zealand.
2008: Global rice shortage
Some of us here are probably too young to remember the Gulf War in 1991, where FairPrice stepped in to maintain the cost of living.
But you’d probably remember the “rice crisis” in 2008.
During the rice crisis, prices of rice skyrocketed which resulted in panic buying of rice.
Again, to moderate rice prices, NTUC FairPrice decided to drop the price of rice. It was the first supermarket retailer to do so, and the last to raise it.
It also lowered the prices of eight types of housebrand rice between five to 12 percent in anticipation of new shipments of rice that had been secured at lower cost.
2011: Thai floods
Severe flooding occurred during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand which destroyed much of the country’s farms and rice paddies.
In response to the looming concerns amongst Singaporeans about the rising Thai rice prices due to the flood situations in Thailand, FairPrice took the lead to freeze the prices of its housebrand Thai rice. This move from FairPrice was to allay consumers’ fear, as well as to ensure that essential food items will always be available to Singaporeans at stable and affordable prices.
FairPrice also stockpiles more than three months’ supply to keep prices stable, while also sourcing for alternative rice sources from Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea, and the USA.
2013: Haze Crisis
Back then, masks became precious commodities when the demand for N95 masks outstripped supply.
This resulted in profiteering by unscrupulous traders who then took advantage of the situation and began selling masks at an inflated price. Prices of mask went spiraling out of control.
To curb profiteering and to ensure that there are enough masks for Singaporeans, FairPrice stepped in to cap the price of the masks and limit the number of masks one person can buy.
So yes, considering the number of times NTUC FairPrice has outdone itself all these years… I have considerably higher expectations of how, now as one unified group, the newly-formed FairPrice Group will continue to uphold its mission of driving socially good outcomes moving forward.
After all, FairPrice has proven itself to do the right thing over and over again all these years.