It was earlier reported that a member of the public, Harry Ong Heng Poh, had written a ST forum letter complaining about NTUC FairPrice charging high prices inside its cafe at the newly opened outlet at Parkway Parade (‘Public member complains prices at FairPrice too high and questions its mission to serve working-class SGs‘).

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

He revealed that the cafe was charging between $5.90 and $6.90 for a piece of cake, and $2.50 for a simple doughnut. He said that a popular brand curry puff sold in the same shopping mall sells for only $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,” Mr Ong added.

“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 supermarket in Singapore to have cocktail bar

The new NTUC FairPrice outlet not only has a cafe but a cocktail bar too. The outlet 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.

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. In fact, the bar is a tie-up with top French spirits and wine producer Pernod Ricard.

Coinciding with the store opening, Straits Times (ST) helped write a rosy review for NTUC FairPrice last Friday. ST went on to describe how a person can indulge himself the whole day at the newly opened 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).”

“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,” it added.

“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).”

ST also suggested hitting the bar at the store, “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.”

“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,” it wrote.

Cappuccino more expensive than what some hipster cafes offer

Following the publication of the TOC article, many netizens have commented that food prices at NTUC FairPrice are no longer cheap. Some even suggested abandoning NTUC FairPrice altogether and shopping at Sheng Siong Supermarket instead.

Others commented that even their upmarket offerings in its cafe are expensive compared to what those hipster cafes can offer outside.

TOC reviewed 3 hipster cafes and found that the cappuccino selling for $5.40 at NTUC FairPrice cafe, as reported by ST, is indeed slightly more expensive than those sold at some of the hipster cafes:

Ronin [Link] $5 cappuccino

Sarnies [Link] $5 cappuccino

The Lokal [Link] $5 cappuccino

According to the mission of NTUC FairPrice, it is supposed to “moderate the cost of living in Singapore” and to serve the needs of the labour movement and the community – that is, the working-class Singaporeans at large.

Now that NTUC FairPrice has decided to sell upmarket cappuccino at its cafe and even selling them more expensive than those offered by some of the hipster cafes, perhaps Mr Ong is right to complain that NTUC FairPrice has indeed “overlooked” its original mission to serve the working-class Singaporeans.


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