May 31, 2009
It's easier than ever to have fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to your doorstep
By Huang Lijie
The desire for fresh food fast has driven more consumers to request speciality purveyors to deliver fruits and vegetables to their homes.
And to date, more than 10 retailers, supplying air-flown produce from Japan to Nepal, are offering this convenient service.
Many of these outlets provide free deliveries with a minimum spending of as little as $30 and boast multiple delivery days in a week to ensure the freshness of the produce when it arrives at the customer's doorstep.
Decopon, a home-delivery service that offers fruits and vegetables grown in Japan, for example, has seen its membership rise by 25 per cent in the last year.
This home-delivery service began in Hong Kong in 1994, and later branched out to Japan and to Singapore in 1998. It takes great pride in making sure that its produce, such as organically grown carrots and seasonal items such as burdock, reaches consumers within two days after harvest.
Similarly, SuperNature, an organic purveyor in Orchard Boulevard, has seen demand grow by about 20 per cent in the last two years for home deliveries of fruits and vegetables, and it recently launched an online ordering system.
The shop also expanded its range of pre-packed produce boxes to five types to suit various diets.
Its new Asian Farm Box ($70), for example, caters to customers who prefer Asian produce such as kailan and kangkong.
Its spokesman says: 'More and more people understand the benefits of organic living and we are seeing a growing group of individuals passionate about eating and living as healthily as possible.'
Most of the speciality retailers LifeStyle interviewed say their home deliveries typically began as a goodwill service to accommodate cancer patients who were too sick to make it down to their stores.
Mrs Ann Tan, 58, co-owner of Four Seasons Organic Market, with outlets in Great World City and Suntec City, says: 'We started making home deliveries about a year after we opened in 2006 because we received requests for this service from customers who were chronically ill and found it inconvenient to go out and shop.'
Mr Peter Lim, 66, chief executive officer of organic shop Nature's Glory in Outram Road, cites a similar reason for offering home deliveries.
Like many other retailers, he too has expanded delivery services over the years to cater to a broad spectrum of customers, including healthy consumers seeking a time-saving, hassle-free and costefficient way of buying fruits and vegetables.
Lighting consultant Peggy Tan, 33, who has been receiving weekly deliveries of organic produce and health supplements from Four Seasons Organic Market for a year, says: 'I became a fan of its home delivery service when I became pregnant and continue to be one now that I have a baby in tow. Their home deliveries make it so convenient for me to get fresh organic produce. I just have to call and order and it's usually free because we spend more than $200 each time.'
She adds that even when she drops by the store to select the produce, she will request for it to be delivered because it frees her up to 'go shopping elsewhere or catch a movie'.
Retailers offering home deliveries of speciality fresh fruits and vegetables say the service has helped grow their businesses too.
Mr Chai Kien Chin, 59, owner of Fire Flies Health Farm in Lim Chu Kang, says its business increased by about 10 per cent when it began delivering its organically grown fruits and vegetables to homes in 2005.
And despite the economic slowdown, requests for home deliveries have not been severely hit for most of the purveyors LifeStyle spoke to.
Mrs Tan of Four Seasons Organic Market says: 'I had expected business to drop drastically, but instead it has been stable. I believe the consumption of the fresh, organic produce that we deliver has become an important part of our customers' lifestyle.'
Many purveyors including Mrs Cynthia Wee-Hoefer, who delivers organically grown fruits and vegetables from Nepal to customers in the Bukit Timah area, however, encourage first-time customers to drop by the store to buy and select their produce.
The 57-year-old owner of Organic Himalayan, which imports produce from her farm in Nepal every fortnight and sells them from her home near Bukit Batok Nature Park, says: 'I want customers to meet and ask questions about the farm and our way of organic farming. I believe you have to shake the hand that feeds you and establish trust at the beginning.'
Retiree David Tan, in his 50s, says he started placing orders with Decopon about half a year ago based on the recommendation of a friend.
He says: 'I have always been impressed by the quality of Japanese produce so I decided to try Decopon's home delivery out of curiosity.
'And the service has been good. We had leeks in our box once and they were large and sweet. My family and I enjoyed cooking them in soups and stir-fries.'
Here are some speciality purveyors offering home deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables:
What: Organically grown fruits and vegetables from Nepal are flown in every fortnight and varieties include peach, radicchio, salad greens and potatoes. Customers pick what they want from a list of seasonal produce in an e-mail that is sent to members every two weeks.
Price: From $9.50 a kg for potatoes to $35 a kg for salad greens. Free delivery for orders of $50 and above in the Bukit Timah area. Deliveries are every fortnight when supplies are imported from Nepal.
To order: E-mail email@example.com
Fire Flies Health Farm
What: The 3ha organic farm in Lim Chu Kang grows a wide range of fruits and vegetables such as chye sim, kailan, bananas and pineapple. Customers are free to choose what they want for delivery.
Price: From $2.50 per 400g for vegetables such as kailan and $4 a kg for fruits such as bananas. Free delivery for orders of $80 and above. There is no fixed schedule for deliveries and arrangements will be made to accommodate individual requests.
What: Choose from five types of fruit and vegetable boxes that offer a range of pre-selected produce for different dietary needs. The Asian option, for example, includes familiar Asian greens such as angled gourd and kangkong. Each box has between nine and 12 types of fruits and vegetables, and the selection varies depending on the seasonal availability of the produce.
Price: From $70 for an Original Farm Box that feeds two to three persons. Free delivery for orders of $70 and above. Deliveries are made on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays.
To order: Call 6304-1338 or order online at supernature.com.sg
What: The store stocks organic produce from Australia, New Zealand and Europe and customers are free to choose what they want for delivery.
Price: From $7 a kg for cabbage to $44 a kg for snow peas. Free delivery for orders of $150 and above. There is no fixed schedule for deliveries and arrangements will be made to accommodate customer requests.
To order: Call 6474-7142
Four Seasons Organic Market
What: The store stocks organic produce from Japan, Europe, Australia and the United States and items include kale, rainbow chard, grapes and apples. Local vegetables such as spinach and bok choy are also available.
Price: From $1.50 for an apple and $2.60 for a 250g to 300g pack of kailan. Free delivery for orders of $200 and above. Deliveries are made on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays but arrangements may be made to accommodate individual requests.
To order: Call 6836-1855
What: Produce grown using reduced amounts of pesticide and fertilisers as well as organic methods are sourced from farms all over Japan, including Chiba and Hokkaido. It is then packed into boxes, which each contain between 14 and 15 types of pre-selected fruits and vegetables such as cabbage and seasonal items such as Japanese mustard spinach. Supplies are flown in every fortnight and delivered within two days of harvest.
Price: A box costs $170 and this includes delivery charge. Deliveries are made islandwide every alternate Tuesday.
To order: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request for an order form
What: Bunalan's Organic Family Box Sets will be able to last a family of two or four for a week. The produce is air-flown from Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe with a choice of 18 Asian or European vegetables and fruits. The European selection, for example, includes beetroot, zucchini and strawberries while the Asian option carries pak choi, chye sim and dragon fruit.
Price: Available in two sizes, the smaller one weighs 6kg and costs $70 and will feed two people while the larger one weighs 8kg and is for a family of four for a week for $95. Delivery costs $12 for orders under $60, $7 for orders over $60. Deliveries are made every day except for Sundays and public holidays.
What: This biodynamic organic vegetable farm offers vegetables such as kangkong, caixin, pumpkin and endive.
Price: Prices start at $2 for 200g for its vegetables. Delivery is free for purchases over $30. Deliveries are available on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
To order: Visit www.greencircle.com.sg or call 6861-9286
What: The shop offers more than 150 types of organic as well as organically grown fruits and vegetables including items such as beetroot and avocado. Customers are free to choose what they want for delivery.
Price: From less than $4 a kg for carrots to $13 a kg for seedless grapes. Free delivery for orders of $120 and above. Deliveries are made daily, except Sundays, according to geographic locations.
To order: Go to natures-glory.com
What: Offers a wide range of organic vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, celery, cabbage, capsicum, tomato and other vegetables, all from abroad and local farms. Sunny Choice also has a cafe serving organic meals and even ice cream.
Price: $2.30 for a 250g packet of leafy vegetables. Delivery is free for orders $50 and up. Delivery is subject to driver availability.
To order: Call 6892-2383
What: It provides a wide range of organically grown vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, celery, potatoes, pumpkin, spinach and more unusual selections such as fennel, swedes, parsnips and kale. All of them are air flown from the US, Australia and various South-east Asian countries every week.
Price: $2.40 for a 250g packet for local leafy vegetables. Free delivery for orders above $200. There is a $12 delivery charge for smaller orders. Deliveries are made daily except on Sundays, subject to the driver availability.
To order: Call 6219-7156 or fax 6219-7157.