Price comparison of fresh organic produce in Singapore: how to make the most out of your $$

Price comparison of fresh organic produce in Singapore: how to make the most out of your $$

Every two years, we do a market research and compare prices of fresh fruit and vegetables across the main offline and online grocery stores in Singapore.

Our first market study was in 2018, we renewed the exercise in 2020In May 2022, we did it again and this article presents our findings.

The demand for organic produce is increasing 

In addition to serious health risks, agricultural chemicals are contributing to climate change. These two combined are driving public demand for organic produce

Indeed, of the pesticides and herbicides used in different countries, many are known to be carcinogenic. 

Also, “if incorrectly used, fertilisers damage the soil, and when made from nitrogen they can emit nitrous oxide, among the most powerful of greenhouse gases with a heat-trapping ability nearly 300 times greater than carbon dioxide.”

Lastly, the Asia-Pacific organic food market is anticipated to grow at 14.38% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) during the forecast period of 2022 to 2030.

But does a rising demand lead to a price increase?

We started by comparing the prices of organic fruit and vegetables across well-known retail grocers around  Singapore, such as Cold Storage (mainly Zenxin’s produce), FairPrice, Giant, Market Place, Super Nature and Little Farms.

Because online shopping has really increased due to Covid, we also took a close look at the online stores selling certified organic fresh fruit and vegetables : Open Taste, QuanFa, Redmart, Ryan, Avo&Co and Straits Market.

For each of these stores, we looked for the entry level price of all the organic items we distribute to the ShiokFarm community.

Research outcome

Prices have indeed increased over the past two years. The main reason we can think of is the stress on airfreight and sea freight. More recently, the increase of petrol prices have probably also influenced prices. 

We have absorbed this cost increase. Being a social enterprise means to support our farmers, but also to support our members in difficult times.

Price Comparison Organic Singapore

Prices from the various stores in Singapore - 15 May & 17 June 2022

*Cells with “-” mean either the organic option was not available when we visited or checked out the store.

Main findings 

  • For a same, or very similar item, there are some huge price differences. The most expensive stores are the following when comparing them to ShiokFarm bulk prices: 
    • Little Farms (+42.53%), 
    • Super Nature (+76.63% and a wooping 103.55% if we include the Lebanese cucumbers at $43/kilo)  
    • MarketPlace (Tanglin, +48.84%)
  • It is impossible to get all the best deals from one single shop. Marketing strategies usually involve pushing a couple of products such as potatoes and apples at a low price and then putting other items at a higher price. Shops are counting on you to not want to go to 4 shops to get only the best deals.
  • Some of the online stores are more expensive than the offline stores, which is unexpected as we do not have the same cost structure. StraitsMarket is the most expensive online store.
  • It is still quite difficult to compare prices as some stores mark their produce’ prices per 100gr or per kg and some others per piece. 
  • A mind blowing amount of plastic packaging is still being used on the store shelves. 
Plastic and organic should not go together
    • There is a correlation between the distance a produce has to travel and its price. For instance, tomatoes from the Netherlands cost $22/kg, while tomatoes imported from Thailand cost $15.30/kg at the same store (Market Place). 
    • In addition to the above, we now all know for sure that Climate Change is very real and dramatic. With this in mind, and considering the additional financial and environmental cost, it is surprising to see that the majority of what is offered/bought is still being flown in. 
    During Covid, we looked at the carbon emissions we all emit when consuming 10kg of organic fruit & vegetables weekly. 
    • If you are flying 10kg of fruit and vegetables per week from Australia, to offset the emissions, you should plant 3 trees per year, each tree should grow for 40 years. 
    • If you are trucking in 10kg of vegetables per week from Thailand, you should plant one tree every 10 years. 
    Pause and think about this. 

     

    Farm to table

    Shouldn’t we all change our consumption habits and start consuming produce that comes from as close as possible from where we live? There are solutions nearby, they are clean and taste good!

    At ShiokFarm, we plant mangrove to offset our collective carbon emissions, but we also try every day to reduce it as much as we can. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is our motto. 

    It’s time to vote for what you want to see in stores with your $$ people!  

    Affordable organic produce

    Back to the price comparison study. We looked at four of our best selling bags and compared their prices with the average retail prices. If our members were to go shopping to create those bags, here is how much more they would be paying. 

     

    Bag name

    Content

    ShiokFarm 

    Price

    Retail

    Price

    %

    5kg Standard bag 

    A good basis for one week, keep a focus on the Dirty Dozen (the twelve fruit & vegetables that are the most polluted when grown in a non-organic environment)

    $70

    $84.76

    +21.09%

    3kg Premium bag

    More premium items that are lovely to have in your fridge. Berries or dates every week.

    $70

    $86.46

    +23.51%

    6kg Paleo Diet bag

    mix of the 5kg bag with our 3kg Premium bag. We of course removed all the nightshade vegetables. Berries or dates every week.

    $98

    $122.56

    +25.06%

    5kg Low Carb bag

    designed for our members following a low carb diet, such as Keto Diet. This bag contains less than 300gr of carbs. 

    $98

    $120.07

    +22.53%

     

    How is that even possible? 

    At ShiokFarm, our mission is to bring affordable fresh organic fruit and vegetables, grown at farms nearby, to households in Singapore. 

    Those produce are available à la carte of course, but we favour subscriptions. 

    Indeed, one of ShiokFarm’s objectives is to reduce food waste by supporting farmers. By subscribing, our members allow farmers a much needed visibility on what needs to be grown. This in turn allows us to reduce food waste, and achieve more affordable prices. 

    Farm to table, at its best!

    Note : ShiokFarm bags contain “all in one bag” produce.  You do not need to go to two or three different grocers (online and offline) and check the availability of items. Plus, if you have any diet restrictions, we worked on that too with a nutritionist. 

    Join our program 

    Hold on, it gets even better with our bulk offer

    Our “Bulk” offer is developing. We have put it together to support families who have many little (and not so little) people to feed, or households who want to team up and buy together to have access to better prices. 

    We have compared this offer with Open Taste, the only competitor we know of who also has a bulk offer for organic fresh fruit and vegetables. Note that surprisingly, their bulk prices are not always the cheapest on the market, so we added Cold Storage. 

    If you were to shop between Open Taste and Cold Storage for instance and buy the cheapest available organic produce listed below, your basket would be  22.35% more expensive than if you bought at ShiokFarm : 

    Item

    ShiokFarm/kg

    ColdStorage/

    MarketPlace/kg

    OpenTaste/kg

    Avocado

    21.0

    22.0

    -

    Apple

    11.2

    9.2

    9.0

    Banana

    8.4

    9.0

    -

    Beetroot

    12.0

    14.0

    12.0

    Carrot

    7.6

    14.0

    10.0

    Corn

    7.1

    8.0

    18.0

    Onion

    10.0

    18.00

    14.0

    Orange

    11.3

    13.0

    -

    Passionfruit

    11.6

    21.0

    -

    Potato

    6.4

    12.4

    9.0

    Sweet potatoes

    8.4

    13.8

    20.0

    Total

    115.00

    140.7


    22.35% more expensive That’s steep! We do this because we want to help  you feed your children with organic food that is as sustainable as possible. Because we care. 

    Note: to have access to these prices at ShiokFarm for bulk prices, you would have to buy avocados, apple, bananas, beetroot, 5kg of carrots, 3.5kg of corn, 5kg of onions, 6kg of oranges, 5kg of passion fruit, 5kg of potatoes and 5kg of sweet potatoes. 

    This is a lot, but this is also a lot cheaper. My point here is that organic prices can be affordable! You can have access to fresh organic fruit and vegetables in Singapore for not much more than conventional produce. You just need to get a bit organised, but it is possible. 🌱👩‍🌾

     

    By Claire Chabrières and Mavy Tashbaeva - 17 June 2022

    Claire Chabrieres

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