Prices of organic fruit & vegetables vary by up to 300% from one shop to another in Singapore, find out where to shop!


by Claire Chabrieres June 26, 2020

Comparing organic prices, a shopper’s experience in Singapore. 2020 edition.

Many organic fruit and vegetables in Singapore lack traceability, labelling and weight information which makes it particularly difficult for users to estimate where they can shop for the best value. 

So we decided to run a price comparison analysis to bring shoppers more clarity and help them in their decision process. 

Click here if you want to avoid the long read and get the key insights from an infographic.

Infographic ShiokFarm  

About the study

The study was conducted between 10 April and 8 May 2020. We visited the main retail stores: Cold Storage, Fairprice, Giant, Little Farms, Market Place, Ryan Groceries, Sheng Shiong and SuperNature. We also researched the online stores: Green Circle, QuanFa, Le Petit Depot, Open Taste, Redmart and our own offering at ShiokFarm. 

For every item we focused on the most affordable option available at each store. We did not list items that did not show a weight for the produce on offer. We consciously excluded wet markets from our comparison as their organic offering is very limited and often impossible to trace. 

 

Summary of research

These tables show the different prices for retail stores, as well as the average price per kilo per produce presented. Cells were left blank when there were no products in the store, or if we could not find the weight.

Singapore_retail_price_comparison_organic_fruit_vegetables

Below are the prices found for the online grocers:

Singapore price comparison online retail organic fruit and vegetables

What we discovered

  • We were surprised by the disparity in prices for the same type of product across different stores. 

Singapore price comparison organic fruit and vegetables

The SuperNature tomatoes were on the vine, but that is a $20 difference for one kilo, with no mention of the origin of the tomato! 

  • Some stores have high prices on certain products and lower prices on others. This makes it difficult to get the lowest prices for everything in one store or online shop. To get the best possible prices for your weekly organic produce, you actually have to go to several stores, which is not always possible and is time consuming.
  • Compared to our previous study two years ago, prices have increased. This is not surprising seeing that the demand for organic fresh fruit and vegetables in Singapore keeps growing. A recent report from Ecovia intelligence showed that the organic market in Asia is one of the fastest growing one in the world, with double-digit expansion in some Asian countries. Retailers have seen prices increase by 5% for FairPrice, 14% for Cold Storage, and 30% for SuperNature! As for online grocers, QuanFa has increased by 3%, Redmart and OpenTaste by 17%. 
  • Prices in supermarkets have increased faster than online prices.Today, online prices are on average 20% cheaper than offline. This was not the case two years ago and it is now more aligned with customer expectations for online grocery pricing. 
  • The price of certain air-flown products such as carrots or onions has increased sharply with the COVID-19 epidemic (more than 45% compared to February 2020). It will be interesting to see if their retail prices come back down once air traffic resumes.
  • The weight and origin of products are not always mentioned. This makes it difficult to make an accurate comparison based on price per kilo, or impossible to know if what you eat comes from really far away. 
  • As in the previous study, there has been little improvement when it comes to the quantity of plastic packaging used. Despite Singapore's efforts to limit plastic use, there is still a long way to go. The following picture was taken at Tanglin Market Place (Cold Storage).

Cold Storage plastic bananas

Conventional bananas sold at Cold Storage -
the ones on the right handside are wrapped in three layers of plastic.

 

More food for thoughts

  • As we combed through products, it became apparent that we need more regulation around the language used in labelling. To be certified organic, a fruit/vegetable has to be grown in organic soil, from an organic seed, using organic fertilizers and pesticides. Claiming to be “without pesticides” or “pesticide free” can be misleading for consumers. It does not mean it is organic and it has no relevance to the quality of the soil, GMO seeds, or the use of chemical fertilizers. 
  • We were also really surprised to see that a lot of fresh organic fruit and vegetables still come from really far away. To give you an idea of what this means for the environment, let’s take a household that consumes 10 kilos of organic fruit and vegetables per week, 52 weeks a year. This makes about half a ton of organic fruit and vegetables flown in per year. If that produce comes from Australia, that’s about 2,400 kilos of carbon dioxide* emitted just for one household. Trees can absorb around 22kg of carbon per year** once they reach maturity (at about 10 years of age). This means that in an ideal world, three trees should be planted each year to compensate for the environmental cost of the fresh fruit and vegetables this household buys. And it will take 40 years for these trees to absorb the emissions. 
If your food comes by truck from Thailand, the carbon dioxide emissions would be 68 kilos for half a ton. You could do this for 10 years before having to plant a tree! 
 
This is, of course, only an estimate and not 100% accurate. It is also not a criticism of airlines... we need them. The point of this comparison is for us all to realize what our consumption habits mean for the planet.  I’m not suggesting we should stop consuming what comes from far away altogether, but when there is a local alternative, favouring it has a huge impact on the environment. 

 

Where does ShiokFarm stand in comparison to the other players in the market? 

ShiokFarm is plastic free. We truck-in most of our products from nearby and recycle the packaging used by farms whenever possible. We have collection points across Singapore in order to be as carbon neutral as possible for the “last kilometer”. 

And in terms of price?

Overall our bags are 48% cheaper than the average market price across all stores listed above.

ShiokFarm vs average market price 

What if we compare ourselves to the less expensive shopping options available?

ShiokFarm vs less expensive shops in town

We are still 24% cheaper in average.  We compared ourselves to the shops who had most of the cheapest references offline and online. Our 7kg bag is 33% cheaper, our 3kg Premium bag 22% cheaper and our Indian Cuisine bag is 21% cheaper than average market prices. 

Why is there such a difference?

Because we are a social enterprise, which means we have lower margins than other players on the market. And because ShiokFarm’s model is unique in Singapore. At its heart is our long-term commitment to our partners who are all certified organic farms. This allows us to maintain good, stable prices. 

ShiokFarm organic Paleo Diet bag and premium bag

Below is a more detailed round up of what you can find in our six bags online. We are also very proud to announce the arrival of a new selection: the Indian Cuisine bag! The price of the Indian Cuisine bag will be the same as the standard 7kg, but its content is of course quite different.  

Both Indian Cuisine and 7kg Standard bags are the most economical on the market. This should make a few families happy

 

The STANDARD bag (5 or 7kg)

These 5 or 7kg bags contain the basic fruit and vegetables for a family. Expect to have to complete this bag with another source. Consider them as your basics for the week.

The 3kg PREMIUM bag

This 3kg Premium bag contains organic fruit and vegetables that are a little pricier, such as broccoli, Hatchiko tomatoes, avocados, asparagus, mushrooms, rocket, pears, nectarines ... and berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.) A great top up for your 5 or 7kg bag!

The PALEO DIET bag

This 6kg Paleo Diet bag is for people who follow the Paleo diet. This is based on the Paleolithic diet which consists mainly of unprocessed, non-dairy products and favours organically grown food. For fruit and vegetables, this diet recommends removing all the nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants.     

The FRUIT bag

This 3kg bag contains only fruit, ideal for healthy snacks for the whole family. Remember, fruits are best absorbed by our bodies when eaten at 10am-ish (between breakfast and lunch). Note that this bag does not contain berries but mainly fruit from the 5kg bag and some from the 3kg Premium bag.

The INDIAN Cuisine bag

Meet our latest bag! This bag of 7kg was created based on feedback from different Indian members in Singapore. It is filled with the kinds of vegetables found in Indian cuisine such as okra, ginger and onions, and is perfect for lovers of Indian flavours or those who want to discover them.

ShiokFarm Indian Cuisine Organic Bag

ShiokFarm organic Indian Cuisine Bag (7kg)

 

By Claire Chabrieres & Marie Nidiau - June 2020
Edited - October 2020
Sources: * EcoTransIT, ** European Environment Agency



Claire Chabrieres
Claire Chabrieres

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