Last updated on September 22nd, 2017
Ah Choy! Got anything to eat? Wah lau! Fridge is empty.
Time to go grocery shopping for Ah Chong (aka Tony Tong).
Fine with me, since my auntie asked me to pick up some vegetables at NTUC. Maybe I’ll get a bottle of French red from Bordeaux, the one my uncle likes?
You may be spending only a few days in Singapore. But at some stage during your stay, you’ll probably need a supermarket, and convenience stores like Cheers and Seven Eleven, though very convenient, have less than the bare essentials.
So where do Singaporeans go grocery shopping, shopping for food and a few daily non edibles? In this post, I will review the main options for local supermarkets.
The Fairest of All Singapore Supermarkets: NTUC FairPrice
I personally call it N-tuck (like nip and tuck, sort of). NTUC (National Trade Unions Congress) was created in 1961 and is also known as Singapore Trades Union Congress.
NTUC FairPrice is the cooperative supermarket chain operated by NTUC. FairPrice was set up in 1973 as cost of living was skyrocketing in Singapore, due to the oil crisis. NTCU FairPrice is a household supermarket name in Singapore.
You can be sure that there is a FairPrice store not too far from your hotel. With more than 100 locations across Singapore, FairPrice is positioned to serve all corners of our island with fresh food at… fair prices!
Typically, my family will buy fresh fruits and vegetables (local Asian produce or imports from America or Europe), milk, meat, fish, beer, wine, diapers, shampoo, toothpaste, cereals, snacks, crisps, chips, frozen chiapati at Fairprice. My grandma likes to play lottery there as well, and my grandpa sometimes bets a few dollars on local horses. FairPrice is the corner store and cornerstone of Singaporean HDB life (subsidised government housing where 80% of the locals live) .
FairPrice supermarkets now offer British products from Tesco’s private label, as well as French products from Casino. This has greatly increased the selection of imported products from distant shores. Look out for specials on both local and imported goods. My uncle gets his French wines on regular discounts, and my auntie waits for the buy-2-get-1-free diapers deals to splurge.
Look out for FairPrice Xtra, a multistory hypermarket that sells clothes, electronics, toys and household goods. Don’t need a screwdriver? Well, you may find a wider range of European delicacies at FairPrice Finest to suit your discerning palate.
Even if you don’t need groceries, your visit of Singapore is not complete without a quick visit to a FairPrice supermarket!
Cold Storage is more than a century old in Singapore but is actually a Hong Kong retailer. It operates about fifty stores across the island.
Cold Storage and Market Place (a larger upscale version of Cold Storage) are where the expatriate community in Singapore shops. The average Singaporean family will not shop at Cold Storage on a regular basis. The bulk of a local family’s food will come from FairPrice and traditional markets, with tidbits and extras (usually on specials) from Cold Storage.
When you need those refined chocolate treats for your sweetheart, or that slightly over the top French Grand Cru, you may find it at Cold Storage (at a cost of course).
Cold Storage supermarkets are located in condominium areas, whereas Fairprice stores can be found more easily at HDB hubs.
Sheng Siong is the third largest supermarket chain in Singapore and was created by the three Lim brothers in the early 1970s. It’s a bit of a local rag to riches story. The Lim family operated a farm back in the day and had too many pigs. So they decided to set up a stall to sell pork. With more than 40 stores, the brothers are now among the top 50 wealthiest Singaporeans…
Sheng Siong is a no frills, cheap fresh grocery supermarket. The stores are more barebones than that of their competitors, and staff are harder to spot.
In the area where I live, I only have access to one of their smaller corner stores. It’s definitely cheap, with a lot of foot traffic. Fresh fish, meat and vegetables on specials are a real bargain. The selection is more limited to local and regional products, with the odd imports. But if you’re looking for just essential groceries, Sheng Siong is a good low margin option.
Now that you’ve had your fill of shopping for groceries at they local supermarkets, you might want to check our post on more traditional markets in Singapore.