The Sunday Times says

In the market for cost and quality

Social responsibility and the profit motive are often seen as antithetical by business owners. But as today's consumers become more aware of social and environmental issues, there are business benefits to being socially responsible. FairPrice recently announced plans to expand and refresh its house brand range, starting with 30 products ranging from olive oil sourced from Italy to green tea from Japan. Such a move is to be applauded on multiple fronts. The supermarket chain was set up in 1973 amid the oil crisis to ensure households could access necessities at affordable prices. As Singaporeans have grown more affluent, it has kept up by offering premium groceries and organic produce.

The move to now broaden its offerings will still help Singaporeans manage the rising cost of living. Olive oil, once seen as a luxury, is now commonly used by health-conscious cooks. Necessities may change over the years, but cost-conscious Singaporeans are aware that house brands can help them save while not stinting on quality. Over the years, the concept of house brands has also become more familiar. While FairPrice might be an outlier example as it is governed by its social mission rather than a purely for-profit motive, its approach should be an example to others. Singaporeans are likely to become more demanding as eco and health issues become more important. FairPrice is heeding the call in the war against diabetes when stocking up on healthier food options.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 13, 2019, with the headline 'In the market for cost and quality'. Print Edition | Subscribe