Public member complains prices at FairPrice too high and questions its mission to serve working-class SGs

A member of the public, Harry Ong Heng Poh, wrote a complaint letter against NTUC FairPrice which was published on the Straits Times (ST) yesterday (‘Forum: FairPrice cafe prices seem too high for most customers‘, 25 Jan).

Mr Ong complained that the food prices at NTUC FairPrice cafe are too high for majority of Singaporeans. “Recently, I went to the newly opened FairPrice Xtra supermarket at Parkway Parade,” he wrote.

“There is a cafe inside the supermarket, and a piece of cake there can cost between $5.90 and $6.90. Even a simple doughnut can cost $2.50, as compared to a popular curry puff being sold in the same shopping centre for $1.80.”

“There are many elderly customers at the supermarket who may need to take a break but who may not be able to afford the prices at this cafe,” he added.

“FairPrice should set the trend and have hawker stalls instead at its supermarket cafe.”

“It should also not overlook its original mission to serve the working class and the fact that the majority of its customers are working-class people.”

First cocktail bar in a supermarket in Singapore

NTUC FairPrice outlet at Parkway Parade was officially opened last Friday (22 Jan) by the Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng, who was previously the Group CEO and MD at IHH HealthCare Berhad. On PMO’s website, it praised Tan saying that during Tan’s tenure, IHH “doubled its revenue from RM 6 billion to RM 12 billion”.

NTUC FairPrice took over from Giant supermarket after it gave up its Parkway store. The new FairPrice outlet spans over 59,000 sq ft and is described as a “blended lifestyle retail space” that offers retail shopping with a dining experience. It also has a cocktail bar, a first for a supermarket in Singapore. The bar is a tie-up with top French spirits and wine producer Pernod Ricard.

ST wrote up a rosy review for the new NTUC FairPrice Parkway outlet last week. “FairPrice Xtra at Parkway Parade, newly opened, is not the same-old, same-old,” said ST. “Grocery shopping will no longer be a chore to endure with gritted teeth.”

ST went on to describe how a person can indulge himself the whole day at the newly opened FairPrice store. “Start the day with breakfast. Snag a table at the 50-seat eating area, then head to Tiong Hoe Coffee… to order a cappuccino ($5.40),” ST wrote.

“If caffeine makes you jumpy, get a bottle of Cold Brew Oat Zero ($8.50), made with single-origin Colombian beans and Oatly’s Barista edition oat milk. The beans are decaffeinated but, because of a unique process using sugarcane, retain their power and oomph.”

“Coffee in hand, go over to House Of Bakers, which has a big selection of Asian- and European-style breads and pastries… go for mini croissants filled with LNX Dried Scallop Hae Bee Hiam ($5 for three until Wednesday, usual price is $7.90 for three). The light, crisp croissants are filled with a good amount of hae bee hiam, which is made using actor Li Nanxing’s family recipe.”

The outlet’s delicatessen has been outsourced to Maxzi from the Indoguna group, which specialises in providing high-quality produce that is served in Singapore’s best dining establishments.

Italian prosciutto and truffles

“There are also Italian prosciutto and truffles. Check out the Japanese snow-aged beef from Niigata, aged in snow-packed rooms so it tastes sweet, mellow and rich,” shared ST.

By afternoon, “everybody must be ravenous,” continued ST. “Send the kids off to chope a table at the dining area while you shop for lunch.”

One can actually pick the produce at this FairPrice outlet and have the ingredients cooked on the spot. The cooking charge for seafood and meat is $8 for the first 500g and $2 for every additional 100g. For vegetables, the cooking charge is $4 for 500g.

ST suggested picking a simple garlic stirfry for the vegetables and grilling for the steak. To go with the meal, ST proposed choosing from two craft beers on tap ($6.90 for 473ml) at The Bar.

“For dessert, treat yourself to gelato from Alfero Gelato (from $6 a scoop),” ST added. “If feeling indulgent, get a giant macaron sandwich with gelato in the middle ($8 each).”

By late afternoon, ST went on to suggest hitting the bar inside the FairPrice supermarket. It wrote, “The beer, wine and spirits selection is staggering, with 700 varieties of wine from 15 countries, 100 types of spirits and liquor and more than 70 varieties of craft beer.”

“Unusual finds include Abashiri Okhotsk Blue Ryuhyo Draft ($7.50), a blue beer from Japan that gets its colour from flowers and seaweed,” it added.

“If you’re planning to drink wine with dinner, get a bottle and take it over to The Bar, where staff can chill it for you for free within 10 minutes. You won’t have to queue to pay for the wine either – you can pay at The Bar.”

“While you wait, have freshly shucked oysters ($15 for six) with a glass of sparkling wine ($7 a glass), a cocktail on tap ($12) or cocktails made to order ($15). The FairPrice Fizz – made with gin, lemon juice, strawberry syrup, soda water and egg-white foam – is light and delicious.”

The Bar at FairPrice Parkway (Source: ST)

In any case, the all-day indulgence at FairPrice Parkway as proposed by ST may be affordable to people like Minister Tan but certainly it would be a stretch for the working-class Singaporeans, as noted by forum writer Mr Ong.

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