Coronavirus: Adequate supplies of essentials, no need to hoard, says FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng

FairPrice group chief executive Seah Kian Peng (at right) visiting FairPrice's Benoi Distribution Centre yesterday. FairPrice has increased the volume of daily essentials being sent to the stores by three times. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
FairPrice group chief executive Seah Kian Peng (at right) visiting FairPrice's Benoi Distribution Centre yesterday. FairPrice has increased the volume of daily essentials being sent to the stores by three times. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Buy what you need, without hoarding, as there are adequate supplies of food and other essentials, said supermarket chain FairPrice's group chief executive Seah Kian Peng yesterday.

FairPrice has over nine million rolls of toilet paper, 1.2 million packs of instant noodles and four million kg of rice, with more coming in through routine daily shipments, he added.

"If you want to buy a little bit more, go ahead, but there's no need to create a stockpile at home because if everyone is trying to do it on the same day and at the same time, it adds strain to the system," said Mr Seah.

He was speaking to the media yesterday at FairPrice's Benoi Distribution Centre.

On Friday, hours after Singapore raised its disease outbreak response to the coronavirus situation from yellow to orange, items such as rice, instant noodles, toilet and tissue paper were sold out within hours in some supermarkets.

The demand for rice increased by five times, instant noodles by four times and toilet paper by 21/2 times on Friday, he said.

The frenzy was something he "did not expect", but he stressed that there is an ample stock of essential supplies and food to go around.

FairPrice has increased the volume of daily essentials being sent to the stores by three times; delivery trips have also been doubled. Prices of daily essentials will also be kept stable to deter profiteering.

"We are here to help moderate the cost of living, so we always try to hold the prices as stable and as affordable as we can," said Mr Seah.

 
 
 
 

But FairPrice may limit the purchase of certain products if the buying frenzy does not ease, he added.

It was a similar call for calm from operators of other supermarkets and online stores.

Mr Pierre Poignant, chief executive of Lazada Group, which operates RedMart, said customers who have already checked out and secured a delivery slot should use the "Order Amend" function to change or add to their existing order, so that others can secure a delivery slot too.

Mr Christopher Bush, CEO of SEA Food, Dairy Farm Group, said there was no need to purchase in bulk. He added that its stores have also reinforced their sanitisation and hygiene protocols to protect employees and customers.

FairPrice has also activated more manpower to cope with the surge in shopping. Lead hand logistic assistant Yusman Ahmad, 48, said this was one of the busiest periods in his 26 years working in the FairPrice distribution centre. Sunday is his rest day, but he is on standby to come back to work.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 09, 2020, with the headline 'Adequate supplies of essentials, no need to hoard: FairPrice CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe