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NTUC Enterprise widening their social footprint to help Singaporeans better manage cost of living

8 August 2016

Price moderation at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market ensures residents good selection of affordable, good and tasty cooked food

Singapore, 6 August 2016 – NTUC Social Enterprises announced today the official opening of NTUC Foodfare’s Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market to offer residents affordable, accessible and tasty cooked food to enable them to better manage the cost of living.

Affordable, accessible and tasty cooked food

Guaranteeing affordable food
NTUC Foodfare guarantees affordable food for residents and customers by moderating the prices of food at the hawker centre. This practice safeguards customers against hawkers who might randomly and unreasonably raise prices of food such that affordability becomes an issue.

From the outset, before the hawkers even tendered for the stalls, they were shown the range of prices, as well as the median price of similar food items at other establishments nearby. The objective was to help them to benchmark their prices competitively as well as to assess what would be fair and sustainable for them.

In addition, a price cap is also imposed on two basic food meals per stall to ensure that all customers, including the price-conscious and low-income, have access to the range of food sold at the hawker centre.

Ensuring taste, quality and price
NTUC Foodfare also carefully selected the hawkers. The evaluation criteria were based largely on the quality, variety, price of food, concept, and experience instead of the tendered rental alone. Of the 300 people who tendered for the stalls, only 50 were shortlisted. The shortlisted contenders participated in a food-tasting exercise before the most deserving 26 were awarded the tender. Today, the hawker centre offers a wide variety of local favourites such as Fishball Noodles, Char Kway Teow, Chicken Rice and Mee Goreng. See Annex A for more details.

Said Guest-of-Honour, NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, “The Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre is an example of how NTUC Social Enterprises are widening their social footprint to provide relevant, accessible and affordable services to our working people. By putting in place price moderation practices, NTUC Foodfare is able to ensure that good and tasty food is affordable to Singaporeans at the hawker centre.”

Residents and customers attest to the appeal of the hawker centre. Since its opening at the end of December 2015, residents have descended on it in droves. To better cater to the residents and customers, the stalls at the hawker centre are open at least 12 hours a day, and at least six days a week. A recent survey of close to 500 households showed that residents go to the hawker centre for their meals regularly, with 43% claiming that they visit the hawker centre daily and another 40% saying that they visit it weekly. Residents also rate the hawker centre highly for the variety and prices of food. See Annex B for comments from some residents and customers.

Said Mr Perry Ong, CEO of NTUC Foodfare, “The hawkers share our vision of providing a good mix of basic food types at low prices so as to deliver greater value to customers. We are heartened that the residents like what we offer and are able to benefit from it.” See Annex C for some remarks from hawkers.

Other winning ways

Ensuring high standard of food hygiene
Residents can also rest assured that food served at the hawker centre is prepared in a hygienic manner. All the stalls at the hawker centre have achieved the National Environment Agency’s “A” grading for cleanliness and food hygiene. This is no mean feat by any standard.

Creating a conducive dining experience
Apart from food hygiene, the residents surveyed also lauded the hawker centre for its cleanliness and ambience. This is a testament to NTUC Foodfare’s success in enhancing customers’ dining experience. One of the factors is the team of conscientious cleaners who are efficient in clearing the tables. Another factor is the use of the central dish-washing facility as well as common crockery at the hawker centre. This helps to streamline the cleaning process for greater productivity. The other factor is the civic-minded residents who are conscious about keeping the environment clean.

Meeting the needs of budget-conscious and low-income residents
To make nutritious meals even more affordable to budget-conscious and low-income residents, NTUC Foodfare also opened a Rice Garden stall at the hawker centre. Comcare cardholders can have a rice meal comprising two vegetables and one meat at only $1.50. Senior citizens, students, National Servicemen and Union members need to pay only $2.00, while all other patrons pay a very reasonable price of $2.70. There are currently 27 Rice Garden stalls across Singapore. NTUC Foodfare targets to have 40 Rice Garden stalls by the end of this year.

Serving up healthier meals for one and all
The stalls at Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre also provide a good variety of healthier hawker favourites. Twenty-three stalls offer at least one Healthier Choice meal at below 500 calories. Of the 23 stalls, 11 of them offer two Healthier Choice dishes.

Creating a vibrant community space
NTUC Foodfare envisioned building a vibrant community space for residents. On Level 1, there is a family area where big groups of families can eat together to enjoy family time together. Level 2 is the Market operated by NTUC FairPrice, featuring a variety of stalls run by different stallholders such as fresh food stalls selling poultry, seafood, meats, eggs, vegetables, and fruits; a florist stall; a health food stall, a provision stall, mobile stalls; clothes stall; and a FairPrice sundry store. The two levels are designed to bring greater variety and convenience to residents and customers. Both NTUC Foodfare and NTUC FairPrice are continually engaging stall owners and residents to enhance the service offerings and shopping experience for everyone.

NTUC Social Enterprises – All for good

Mr Tan Suee Chieh, Group Chief Executive Officer of NTUC Enterprise, said: “Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Market is an example of how NTUC Social Enterprises are delivering social outcomes for Singaporeans. We do so in three major ways. First, we make goods and services available and accessible to one and all, especially the low income. Second, we moderate prices to keep other commercial businesses in check, so everyone will benefit. Third, we are willing to accept lower profit margins so as to give more value to customers”.

The NTUC Social Enterprises’ 10-year plan, which was announced on 23 June 2016, looks to address four major social concerns of Singaporeans: cost of living; ageing; health and healthcare costs; and the fear of being left behind. This is a continuation of our work to provide timely, relevant, accessible and affordable services to Singaporeans.

Some examples of how NTUC Social Enterprises are addressing concerns about the cost of living include:

  • NTUC Foodfare also offers entry-level budget meals at all HDB coffee shops and its food court at Admiralty. These budget meals are available from $1.80 to $3.00. This is to ensure that all Singaporeans, including the budget-conscious, can have access to affordable food in their neighbourhood.
  • NTUC FairPrice’s 2000 House-brand items are priced 10 to 15% cheaper; 1000 Everyday Low Price items offer the best value; and Yellow Dot products are the lowest priced items in its product category. On top of these, there are the Pioneer Monday and Senior Tuesday discounts that benefit 170,000 seniors weekly. These programmes have given customers significant savings over the years. In 2015, NTUC FairPrice enabled Pioneers and seniors in Singapore to save over $5.5 million from the Pioneer Monday and Senior Tuesday discounts.
  • NTUC Link’s Plus! card offers value to members to stretch their dollar as LinkPoints can be used to offset purchases at over 1,100 participating merchant outlets in Singapore. They can also use the points when shopping online.
  • NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool centre provides affordable and quality pre-school education to enable young children, regardless of their family background, to have a good start in life. There are currently 27 Rice Garden stalls and more than 120 MFS centres catering to 14,000 children across Singapore.

– ends –

Annex B

Comments from residents/customers about Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre:

Yang Kai Sheng, 25, visited the hawker centre within the first week that it opened. He has now become a regular eating there every week. He said, “Our area so needs a new food centre… Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre has a lot of food and a great array of dishes. I especially love the western stall and visit it weekly.”

Mr Rajini Sriraman, 37, works in the vicinity of Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre. He goes there for lunch and packs food home for dinner. He said, “‘I always come here for lunch. I like that the variety – gives me options especially when some days I crave for different things. I actually come back after work sometimes to pack food for my family. The atmosphere makes lunch stress-free and quite enjoyable. The queues are normally long at this time, so I can’t complain much, but, after work I can take away food quickly.”

Ms Juliana Bte Haron, 35, a resident of Bukit Panjang goes to the hawker centre at least once a week. She said, “I’ll head there a least once a week, either on a weekday after work or on the weekends, to pick up food for my family or purchase a meal for myself. Besides eating at the chicken rice store, I enjoy heading over to the Indian store to buy a plate of rojak or bowl of mutton soup. Also, I head to the store beside the chicken rice store to pick up some kueh for my family.”

Ms Juliana also said, “Before the hawker centre opened, I used to head over to Greenwich Plaza to buy chicken rice there as my children love chicken rice. But the price there is pretty steep. When Bukit Panjang hawker Centre came about, I gravitated to the more affordable option as the taste was pretty similar. When I go to BPHC with my family, we appreciate the variety of stores as well as the market, toilet, hawker centre, clothing stores, etc. These are on the same level. It makes everything accessible & convenient.”

Annex C

Hawkers from Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre subscribe to NTUC Foodfare’s vision to provide affordable, tasty and good food to residents and customers. Remarks from some stall-holders are as follows:

NTP Western Grill:
“I support the price moderation exercise because it benefits the masses. Moreover, it will benefit my business.” – Mr Chiam Chee Meng, Stall Owner, NTP Western Grill

Like Pudding:
“Our $1.20 hot dishes and $1.80 ice dishes are actually priced to give back to the community. Our profit is not a lot. It is very hard to find $1.20 dishes like Tao Suan, Red Bean Soup and Peanut Soup, and $1.80 dishes like Cheng Teng and Ice Kachang in the market today. Moreover, I can confidently say that, based on such pricing, no one else gives a larger portion than us.” – Mr Kelvin Chen Sung Lin, Stall Owner, Like Pudding