41. A Chicken and Egg Problem

Photo: Then-Minister of State for Home Affairs and Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan holding a bag of frozen chicken during a visit to FairPrice’s Fresh Food Distribution Centre on May 26, 2022. Source: Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

Challenges wrought by the pandemic, compounded by the war in Ukraine and Malaysia’s subsequent poultry export ban, strained Singapore’s supplies of poultry and eggs in 2022.

Still, FairPrice Group managed to keep its chicken and egg stocks steady. This was no mean feat for a country known to be one of the world’s largest per capita consumer of eggs – Singapore’s per capita consumption was 388 eggs in 2020. Every year, Singapore consumers eat more than 2 billion eggs.

How did Singapore and FairPrice Group facilitate a smooth supply to feed such a hearty appetite?

Quite simply, they heeded the good old proverb and put their eggs in more than one basket. The strategy of diversification sees FairPrice Group sourcing from more than 100 countries and markets for its goods – and it is always looking out for more partners.

When egg supplies were threatened during the pandemic, the Group stepped up its search for suppliers to import from countries further afield such as Spain, Ukraine and Poland. It also inks agreements with farms to “forward buy” produce at agreed prices, so consumers are insulated from price fluctuations caused by market shortages.

Malaysia’s ban on chicken exports, which took effect on June 1, 2022, ruffled some feathers as Singapore imports a third of its poultry supply from its neighbour. But FairPrice Group’s assurance that it had a four-month stockpile of frozen chicken from countries like Thailand quickly eased consumer concerns and prevented panic buying.

Yet again, FairPrice Group has shown it will never chicken out, no matter how dire or daunting the situation.

Since its humble beginnings in a corner of Toa Payoh, NTUC FairPrice has become the quintessential Singaporean supermarket. The leap from a single store to a grocery giant is a tale of retail reinvention – a half-century journey that saw the cooperative confront crises and challenges, revamps and even robbers.

As it expanded and evolved, FairPrice never wavered from its core mission: to moderate the cost of living for consumers. It Takes a Great Deal - A Catalogue of FairPrice Group Stories encapsulates the birth of the consumer cooperative in 1973 and its transformation into a $4 billion food enterprise that is now called FairPrice Group.

Through 50 remarkable stories, we celebrate the people, products and places that mark significant milestones for the food retailer over the last five decades, charting its growth and successes in the past, present and into the future.