Halal grocers popping up

Mr Malek Mattar and Mr Ronnie Tan opened My Outlets Global Halal Hub at Oxley BizHub eight months ago.
Mr Malek Mattar and Mr Ronnie Tan opened My Outlets Global Halal Hub at Oxley BizHub eight months ago.PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO, BERITA HARIAN

From frozen meats to South Korean snacks, the stores offer a wide range of products

Those looking for halal-certified products now have more choices.

There are at least 10 halal grocers, many of which have stand-alone shops located in residential neighbourhoods or industrial estates.

The latest one, which opened eight months ago, is the 4,000 sq ft My Outlets Global Halal Hub at Oxley BizHub in the Ubi industrial area.

The supermarket is run by Mr Malek Mattar, 54, director of strategic corporate development, and managing director Ronnie Tan, 47.

Mr Malek, who is also the deputy president of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry, says: "Five years ago, the demand for grocers selling only halal products was not as high. Now, the level of awareness is higher and consumers are careful about the products they buy."

As the word "global" is in the supermarket's name, customers can buy products from various halal sources overseas.

Mr Malek adds: "We have products from Japan, South Korea and even South Africa. There is demand from well-travelled consumers and people like trying new products."

There are also plans to sell fresh food in the future. And a My Outlets minimart may soon be found near you as the company has aggressive expansion plans - it plans to open at least 11 outlets this year and 30 outlets in three years.

Apart from the Ubi outlet, the company has an outlet in Bishan and will open another in the Woodlands industrial area soon.

On targeting residential areas, Mr Tan says: "Expanding into a shopping mall can be very expensive. We are working to reach out to households and being in the heartland will help."

To compete with the major supermarket chains that also stock halal products, some of these grocers also have an online platform for home delivery.

Halal certification from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) is not mandatory for such businesses. Halal certification requires checks on raw materials, preparation processes, storage spaces and product displays.

A Muis spokesman says there have been about 40 halal-certified sections in supermarkets such as Giant, FairPrice and Cold Storage since 2005.

The spokesman adds: "Of late, we have been receiving queries on the mixing of halal and non-halal products on product displays.

"Due to the sensitivity of this, Muis consistently engages supermarkets through our circulars and inspection visits to observe operation processes. This applies to all supermarkets and grocers, whether they have a Muis halal-certified section or not."

The public can snap photos of products and upload them to Muis' Twitter account (@halalSG) to verify their halal status. Muis would then respond via the same channel, which has gained 20,000 followers over the past three years.

Supermarket chains SundayLife! spoke to report an increase in the number of halal products in stores, but declined to give figures.

A Prime Supermarket spokesman notes that 60 to 70 per cent of the products it sells are halal-certified and items are added based on suppliers' recommendations.

She says: "The buying power of the group of consumers for halal-certified products has improved tremendously. Hence, there is certainly potential for these products."

Old-timers such as Zac Group, Toko-Warisan, Adam Halal and Umairah Halal Food have had to keep up with the competition from the big boys.

Mr Khairul Ruzaini, 25, business development manager of Umairah Halal Food, has had to help his family's business change with the times.

Business, he notes, was brisk in the first 10 years after Umairah was established in 1992.

He says: "Supermarkets such as FairPrice upped their scale and Sheng Siong started gaining market share, so there was a challenge to compete head on."

Last year, Umairah expanded its reach online and provided home delivery. Since then, sales have doubled monthly.

Mr Khairul adds: "I think we have room for more halal grocers as demand increases each year. We have had several inquiries coming in about organic halal meat as more people are well-informed on the diverse quality of meats."

Housewife Sharifah Suleiman, 45, gets her meats delivered from Umairah every month.

She says: "My meats come marinated and sliced according to my request. I have also recommended my non-Muslim friends to buy from the shop as I know many of them look for halal food as well.

"I used to buy my meats from FairPrice, but I have to be careful because sometimes, the halal meats are placed near the nonhalal ones. I might accidentally take a non-halal one."

Other consumers such as Ms Azizah Hashim, 55, who owns a fashion garment shop, are switching to halal grocers.

Ms Azizah, who buys from My Outlets twice a month, says: "My Outlets is convenient and some products are cheaper too. I hope it brings in more ready-to-cook items."

euniceq@sph.com.sg


Some halal grocers

ST 20150503 JEQ02LAVER 8 1283079m

MY OUTLETS GLOBAL HALAL HUB

The eight-month-old food hub sells a variety of frozen food, canned products and beverages - all from halal-certified suppliers in the region.

Besides best-selling items such as frozen dim sum, it also stocks more unusual products. Think Sakura Jam Orange/Apple ($9.90) from Japan; Laverland Crunch crispy seaweed snack ($2.50) from South Korea; and a range of garlic puree, torch ginger puree and galangal puree (from $2.50 for a 100g bottle) from Malaysia. There is even a grape juice and rooibos tea drink ($8.50) from South Africa.

Delivery costs $15 for orders below $80.

Where: Two outlets at Oxley BizHub, 61 Ubi Road 1, 01-01/02/03, and Block 282 Bishan Street 22, 01-131

Open: Oxley BizHub - 9am to 7.30pm (Monday to Saturday), 10am to 6pm (Sunday and public holidays); Bishan - 7am to 8.30pm daily

Info: Call 6702-2379 or go to www.myoutlets.com.sg

ST 20150503 JEQ03UMAIRAH 1283090m

UMAIRAH HALAL FOOD

It started out as a stall in a wet market in 1992 and expanded its reach online last year.

Umairah specialises in ready-to-cook marinated meat, such as chicken drumlets (from $6 for 500g), beef (from $10 for 500g) and lamb rack ($7.50 for two pieces).

There is also mutton and quail ($10 for three birds) as well as more exotic meats such as rabbit (seasonal price, order two weeks in advance).

Delivery costs $10 for orders below $50 and $5 for orders between $50 and $99.

Where: Yuhua Village Market & Food Centre, Block 347 Jurong East Avenue 1, 01-72

Open: 7am to noon (Monday to Saturday), 7am to 1pm (Sunday)

Info: Call 9457-6735 or go to umairah.com

HALALMARKET.SG

This online food grocer stocks fresh meats such as chicken, beef and mutton bone marrow ($6); dried goods such as squid ($8.90 for 400g); and beverages such as seaweed cordial ($12).

Delivery costs $7for orders below $75.

Info: Call 9114-4289 or go to halalmarket.sg

ST 20150503 JEQ02SUZY 1283078m

SUZYAMEER FROZEN

Besides its range of halal frozen food, the grocer sells items suitable for barbecue parties, such as grass-fed beef ribeye steak ($33 for 1kg) and raw sambal ikan bakar ($14). Barbecue set packages start from $99.90 for 10 people and includes satay and otah.

It also stocks household and baby products.

Delivery costs $10 for orders below $75 and $7 for orders between $75 and $150.

Where: Block 201D Tampines Street 21, 01-1161

Open: 8am to 11pm daily

Info: Call 6784-6004 or go to www.suzyameeronline.com.sg

ZAC GROUP

What started out as Zac Meat & Poultry in 1997 has grown to four outlets, which include a butchery and deli.

Products include Australian wagyu ribeye ($15 for 100g), beef chorizo ($2.40 for 100g), chicken salami ($14.80 for 1kg) and shish lamb kebabs ($22.50 for five pieces). It also sells herbs, pickles and cheese as well as dried fruits and nuts.

Delivery costs $30 for orders below $150.

Where: Four outlets at 16 Woodlands Terrace; 331 Changi Road; 1B Figaro Street; 14 Chun Tin Road

Open: Woodlands - 8.30am to 5.30pm (weekday), 8.30am to 12.30pm (Saturday), closed on Sunday and public holidays; Changi - 9.30am to 7pm (Tuesday to Friday), 9am to 7pm (Saturday), 9am to 2pm (Sunday), closed on Monday; Figaro Street - 9am to 7pm (weekday), 9am to 6pm (weekend); Chun Tin Road - 10am to 8pm (weekday), 10am to 7pm (weekend)

Info: Call 6284-5979 (Woodlands)/6842-2726 (Changi)/6636-0939 (Figaro Street)/6463-0745 (Chun Tin Road) or go to www.zacbutcheryanddeli.com.sg or www.zacmeat.com.sg