Wednesday, June 10, 2009

STI: Fresh catch of the day

June 7, 2009

Fresh catch of the day

The revamped Sheng Siong Hypermart at The Verge offers more than 50 types of live seafood

By Huang Lijie 

Live baby abalones selling from $1.50 per piece sounds too good to be true until you walk into the seafood section of the Sheng Siong Hypermart at The Verge in Serangoon Road.

The supermarket chain's largest outlet to date in the former Tekka Mall boasts more than 50 types of live seafood including lobsters, stingray and soft-shell turtles.

It also stocks live seafood items that are less commonly available in markets such as horn scallops and blackspot tuskfish.

The extensive live seafood section in the $2-million revamped store, which reopened recently, is fuelled by Singaporeans' growing appetite for fresh seafood.

Indeed, no fewer than 28 outlets by supermarket operators such as Sheng Siong, NTUC FairPrice and Cold Storage have started selling live seafood in the last two years.

Live seafood is available at all 22 Sheng Siong supermarkets.

On the decision to offer such a wide variety of live seafood, Mr Lim Hock Leng, 44, deputy managing director of the supermarket chain, says: 'The variety of seafood consumed in Singapore has decreased over the years from the wide range available from fishing kampungs of the past to only a few common types today.

'So we decided to source for fresh seafood from various countries to bring back the lost flavours of kampung seafood.'

Its seafood is imported from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan, and supplies are replenished every one to three days.

He adds that its move from the second floor of the shopping centre to its new home - twice as spacious at 45,035 sq ft sprawled over the two basement levels - has allowed the hypermarket to showcase a larger selection of seafood.

The impressive array is displayed in 70 seawater and fresh water tanks. The tanks are cleaned every six months.

Prices for its live seafood range from $1.50 for a baby abalone, which weighs about 20g, from Thailand to $65 a kg for lobsters from Malaysia or Indonesia.

Mr Lim says its live seafood section has been doing brisk business with an increase of 25 per cent in sales since the revamp. Popular items include its seabass, tilapia and abalone.

Housewife Lu Chun Zu, 28, a regular customer of the hypermarket, says: 'I travel from my home in Whampoa to this supermarket whenever I want to buy and cook seafood for my family because I prefer using live seafood. It tastes better than chilled versions, and they have a large selection here.

'The prices for items like the abalone are also affordable. I've bought it twice, about eight to nine pieces each time, which I double boil with wolfberries as a nourishing treat for my two young sons.'

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