Standing Tall as A Responsible Retailer30 June 2020
NTUC FairPrice was set up in 1973 with the social mission to moderate the cost of living in Singapore. Since then, FairPrice has been steadfast not just in keeping essentials affordable, but also benchmarking prices to ensure daily needs remain affordable for all . The social enterprise has held prices and empowered the community to stretch their dollar during economic downturns, helped its SME suppliers tide over financial crises, and developed robust volunteering programmes and structured philanthropic initiatives to benefit the less fortunate.
In crises, FairPrice has also stepped in to moderate prices and ensure the adequate supply of food and goods. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, FairPrice kept the prices of vegetables stable despite a surge in demand and set purchase limits to discourage over buying – ensuring as many families as possible were able to have access to fresh produce. During that period, FairPrice employees continued to do their jobs despite the widespread fear and anxiety in the wider community. Some FairPrice employees in fact fell sick and had to be quarantined. Many others soldiered on to ensure the community was able to continue getting their daily essentials.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic afflicted millions of people the world over, disrupting lives and livelihoods. Once again, purchase limits were instituted to curb hoarding, while the co-operative tapped on its vast network of suppliers worldwide to augment supply of daily essentials for the nation. It ramped up its online grocery delivery platform to support national efforts to get people to stay at home, converting a brick-and-mortar store into an online fulfilment centre in a short span of three weeks. To boost overall operational capacity and support additional safety protocols, FairPrice hired over 4,000 workers in under two months, many of whom had their livelihoods impacted due to the pandemic.
To provide less privileged seniors with groceries, it deployed specially outfitted vans – carrying basic essential groceries – to 10 mature estates with high concentration of low-income seniors. In caring for the less fortunate, FairPrice extended much needed financial aid to charity organisations that had been most impacted due to diminished donations during the Covid-19 situation.
In a world where income distributions are widening and trust between businesses and workers is eroding in many countries, FairPrice can stand tall as a social enterprise that has served its members well and forged strong ties with the wider community. It has grown from humble beginnings into one of the largest grocery retailers in Singapore while maintaining its mission of keeping prices affordable and giving back to society.
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