May 24, 2009
Value for money from wholesalers
Smart consumers are saving up to 30 per cent on groceries by going straight to the source
By Rebecca Lynne Tan
So you think you are a savvy shopper. But do you know where to go to get more bang for your buck?
Avid home cook Lloyd Kiang does.
In fact, the 44-year-old, a distributor in the marine engineering industry, has been stretching his food dollar by shopping at live seafood market Allswell Marketing in Geylang Road.
The seafood shop has tanks full of Alaskan king crabs, Boston lobsters, mud crabs, live grouper and flounder, clams, geoduck and oysters, to name but a few.
Mr Kiang heads there once every two months, spending about $300 each time on two to three Alaskan king crabs and Pacific oysters, which he throws on the barbecue on special occasions. He says: 'You get much more value for money when you buy direct from the wholesaler.'
These days, many Singaporeans are looking for ways to save by shopping at warehouses and wholesale retail shops. LifeStyle found five food wholesalers who sell direct to consumers.
These outlets, located mostly in industrial estates such as Tuas, Woodlands and Jurong, sell everything from raw meats and bamboo clams to ready-to-eat waffles and handmade pralines. They supply mainly top hotels, restaurants and food-chain outlets in Singapore.
Operators say that while they have seen overall business decline by about 30 per cent in recent months because of the current recession, they have noticed a surge in walk-in customers who buy directly from their retail shops.
Ms Jenny Loy, 32, business manager of Allswell Marketing, which supplies big-name seafood restaurants and high-end hotels, says business is especially good on special occasions such as Chinese New Year and Mothers' Day.
Shoppers pay 20 to 30 per cent less than retail prices
Woodlands-based Halal butchery and dairy manufacturer Zac Meat & Poultry, which supplies supermarkets, restaurants and the airline industry, says it has also seen more traffic to its butchery. The number of walk-ins has increased by around 30 per cent in recent months.
Its fresh sausages cost from $7 a kg and ribeye steak is priced from $13 a kg - 20 to 40 per cent cheaper than what people would pay at major supermarkets.
Over at Foodedge Gourmet in Woodlands Terrace, a frozen food and pastries wholesaler which supplies airlines and other food operators, business is also brisk.
Its sales and marketing manager, Mr Jaswinder Singh, 47, says: 'When people walk in, they know immediately that what they are buying is premium food that they would get at restaurants and cafes, but at a 20 to 30 per cent discount.'
These days, just the word 'discount' is enough to get consumers and bargain-hunting home cooks salivating. Retiree Lee Guan Seng, 56, who frequents warehouses such as Zac Meat & Poultry, says: 'I like to shop at these places because the discounts mean I save money. The items there are fresher than what you can find in supermarkets.
'We are still spending, but we are just being smarter about it.'
Allswell Marketing Live Seafood Market
Where: 670 Geylang Road (corner of Lorong 42), tel: 6100-4500, open: 8.30am to 7pm daily
Nearest MRT station: Paya Lebar
What: A range of live seafood items including Boston lobsters, Alaskan king crab, Pacific oysters from Australia, Canada and the United States, fish such as grouper, soon hock and flounder, and prawns.
Best deal: Alaskan king crab (about $80 a kg) which costs about $100 to $200 each, depending on the weight. Pacific oysters cost $2 to $6 each, depending on the size.
Where: 26 Tuas Avenue , tel: 6863-2626, open: 11am to 4pm weekdays, closed on weekends
Nearest MRT station: Joo Koon
What: The retail shop at its factory sells pralines, chocolate chips for baking, chocolate for fondues and single origin chocolate from places such as Madagascar, Peru and Ghana.
Best deal: A box of 12 handmade pralines costs $20. It usually costs $25 and above elsewhere.
Zac Meats and Poultry
Where: 16 Woodlands Terrace, Woodlands East Industrial Estate, tel: 6284-5979, open: 8am to 6pm weekdays, 8am to 1pm Saturdays. Closed on Sundays and public holidays
Nearest MRT station: Woodlands
What: A butchery which sells minced beef and chicken, rack of lamb and raw cuts of beef including ribeye, topside, T-bone and striploin. It also sells ready-marinated items for barbecues such as shish kebabs and beef roulade. Head here for dairy products too - butter and parmesan, feta, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
Best deal: Cheesy chicken frank at $10 a kg, ribeye steak at $13 a kg. At its warehouse sale every last Saturday of the month, shoppers enjoy an extra 30 to 40 per cent off regular prices.
Frosts Food and Beverage
Where: 24 Tuas Avenue 12, tel: 6862-2166, open: 11am to 4pm weekdays, 8am to 1pm Saturdays, closed on Sundays
Nearest MRT station: Joo Koon
What: A wide selection of food and beverage, ranging from waffles, pita breads and muffins to Bickford's drinks. Free tasting daily and free gifts with every purchase.
Best deal: $11 for a pack of breaded button mushrooms, a popular bar snack. Buy eight packets and get 5 per cent off.
Where: 26 Woodlands Terrace, tel: 6339-4953, open: 10am to 4pm, (extended till 5pm for special factory sale on the last Friday of the month) weekdays, 10am to 2pm (extended till 3.30pm for special factory sale) Saturdays, closed on Sundays.
Nearest MRT stations: Woodlands and Sembawang
What: The shop features a wide range of gourmet food that has been frozen after being cooked. These include pastries, pizza, soups, lasagnes and ice cream.
Best deal: Double-chocolate brownies at $25 for a tray of 10 pieces