FairPrice sells groceries from air-conditioned truck

SINGAPORE – Housewife Norlea Hamid previously had to walk about 400m to the nearest supermarket to pick up small items she may have forgotten when out grocery shopping.

But the 58-year-old, who lives in Block 518 West Coast Road, will now only need to walk to the next block to a FairPrice air-conditioned truck stocked with many items normally found in supermarkets.

“I just live in the next block, so it’s very easy now to pick up something I’ve missed,” said Madam Norlea, who lives with her husband and son.

The FairPrice on Wheels initiative was first launched on April 23 during the circuit breaker with five vans selling groceries in five mature estates with a higher concentration of seniors.

On Thursday (Nov 12), FairPrice announced that an air-conditioned truck will, for a start, serve Block 108 Bukit Purmei Road, Block 32 Telok Blangah Rise and Block 518 West Coast Road.

The truck can hold about 200 products, including fresh fruit and frozen products, and serve up to five customers at a time, with safe-distancing measures in place.

FairPrice said with the air-conditioned truck, it can now sell items that were previously not available on FairPrice on Wheels vans, like meat and dairy products.

The vans, which FairPrice used during the pilot, had carried about 40 products that are not temperature-sensitive.

These included bread, rice, toilet paper, canned goods and vegetables.

As for the truck, about 40 per cent of the items it carries will comprise housebrand products to cater to more budget-conscious customers, said Mr Traves Tan, general manager of supermarkets and FairPrice shops at FairPrice.

He added that the decision to expand the range of products was based on customers’ feedback, as well as a preference among senior customers to pick and choose the products themselves.

Shoppers at FairPrice on Wheels at Block 518 West Coast road on Nov 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

FairPrice said that 70 to 80 per cent of the customers during the first run, which ended last month, were seniors.

Mr Tan said the three locations chosen are based on demographic data. Each has a high concentration of seniors living in three-room Housing Board flats.

He added that the FairPrice on Wheels initiative was in the works last year, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, FairPrice had to use vans instead of the air-conditioned truck as an interim solution during the circuit breaker.

Similar to payment options available at supermarkets, customers can also pay using credit and debit cards. Their membership points will also be processed.

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FairPrice said it will continue to assess the viability and customer receptivity of the initiative in considering whether to add more trucks and locations.

Retiree Chua Hee, 77, said he was pleased to have a wider selection of items on the truck in West Coast.

He bought fresh fruit and vegetables on Thursday morning.

Another West Coast resident Shoh Yock Mui said that the truck’s offerings help to supplement her usual supermarket runs.

But the 82-year-old added that climbing the truck may prove challenging for seniors like her.

Shoppers at FairPrice on Wheels at Block 518 West Coast road on Nov 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

The truck will be at Block 108 Bukit Purmei Road from Sunday to Tuesday, between 9am and 2pm.

It will be at Block 32 Telok Blangah Rise from Sunday to Tuesday, between 3pm and 8pm and at Block 518 West Coast Road from Wednesday to Saturday, between 9am and 8pm.

FairPrice said prices of its products are consistent with its stalls across the island, and those eligible for the Pioneer Generation, Merdeka Generation and Seniors’ Discount schemes can continue to enjoy discounts on the designated days.

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