Coronavirus: Bakeries in Singapore securing fresh ingredients ahead of May 12 start

Customers queueing up at The Pine Garden's Ang Mo Kio outlet (top) on April 22, before tighter measures kicked in. The bakery, which has been calling up customers (above) to process refunds for their cancelled orders, will reopen all its six outlets
Customers queueing up at The Pine Garden's Ang Mo Kio outlet (above) on April 22, before tighter measures kicked in. The bakery, which has been calling up customers to process refunds for their cancelled orders, will reopen all its six outlets on Tuesday. PHOTOS: KHALID BABA, COURTESY OF WEI CHAN
Customers queueing up at The Pine Garden's Ang Mo Kio outlet (top) on April 22, before tighter measures kicked in. The bakery, which has been calling up customers (above) to process refunds for their cancelled orders, will reopen all its six outlets
Customers queueing up at The Pine Garden's Ang Mo Kio outlet on April 22, before tighter measures kicked in. The bakery, which has been calling up customers (above) to process refunds for their cancelled orders, will reopen all its six outlets on Tuesday. PHOTOS: KHALID BABA, COURTESY OF WEI CHAN

Last month, home baker Adeline Tan, 23, was so short on speculoos, a type of spiced cookie, that she had to buy them from a German market - at almost double FairPrice's usual price.

She had taken orders for speculoos brownies before realising how difficult it was to get hold of the ingredient, and had to absorb the extra costs to fulfil some 70 orders.

She is one of many home bakers grappling with supply shortages before business reopens on Tuesday.

Since April 22, businesses such as standalone F&B outlets selling only beverages, packaged snacks, confectionery or desserts; hairdressing and barber services; and retailers of pet food and pet supplies have been closed as part of stricter circuit breaker measures.

Larger bakeries and pastry shops are also preparing to secure ingredients for Tuesday's reopening.

Another home baker, Ms Chen Yanting, 39, has started taking new orders to be fulfilled after Tuesday, but with new restrictions in place.

Ms Chen said she would take customised orders if they require regular ingredients like cake flour, baking powder and sugar.

"But I dare not commit to orders requiring ingredients that are a bit harder to get now, such as cocoa powder, whipping cream and fresh flowers, berries or seasonal fruit.

"I want to avoid having to run all over and spend time in queues just to get one unique ingredient."

Ms Chen will not be letting customers collect their orders on their own, and is keeping to a single delivery partner. "Hopefully, this will help with reducing movement."

Brick-and-mortar bakeries are also prioritising securing inventory.

Mr Wei Chan, managing director of The Pine Garden bakery, said some ingredients are scarce during this period, and costs have gone up. All his six outlets will reopen on Tuesday.

"Eggs have increased in price by about 20 per cent," he said, adding that he has multiple suppliers for eggs as it is a baking essential.

Mr Chan, who is also the assistant honorary secretary of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, said other shops are likely taking similar action.

He said of Tuesday's reopening: "Preparing your ingredients and people, logistics and equipment - a lot of steps need to be taken. Everyone is going through that."

One danger is that equipment could break down due to the temporary halt in operations and it could be difficult to get them repaired during this period, he said.

Meanwhile, smaller, standalone bakeries are finding it easier to prepare to reopen.

Ms Agatha Xavier, who runs Lucia Cakes - a mostly online business with a small shop front and kitchen in Club Street - said her store operates on a bake-to-order basis, with limited slots per day.

She has also put in place safe distancing measures for delivery agents who pick up baked goods from her shop. Hand sanitiser is also available.

Ms Xavier, 39, who has two people working full time with her, added that each has an individual workstation in the kitchen, which reduces contact as well.

Consumers are looking forward to patronising their usual suppliers of baked products.

Ms Chia Jia Qian, 30, a doctor, said she consumes baked goods almost every week. "So not having easy access to these does make a difference for me, especially when we have celebrations at home. What I buy is definitely better than what I make with my own hands."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 10, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Bakeries in Singapore securing fresh ingredients ahead of May 12 start. Subscribe