28 May, 2009
Singapore’s Expensive Wholesale Fruit & Veggie Market
Posted by: Singapore Entrepreneur In: Business in Singapore
Most Singaporeans know about this place but few have actually ventured into the wholesale fruit and vegetable market at Pasir Panjang. Of course, there is no reason to go unless you’re throwing a huge party since you have to buy everything in bulk to get a good price (vis a vis the market price), but it is interesting nevertheless to see the wholesalers at work, especially at the auction hall as pictured below.
Covering 15 hectares, the market has 1,405 units comprising stalls, shops, cold rooms and offices.
Singapore having no natural resources of its own (well there is a smattering of hydroponic farms but hardly enough to feed the nation), the produce comes from everywhere else- as far flung as New Zealand and South Africa, and as close as Malaysia and Indonesia.
As with all commodities, prices fluctuate each day as do the types of produce that come in. Green apples, for example, range from $28-38 depending on the type and the origin, sometimes going by the kilo (20 kilos seemed to be standard) to by the piece (130-135 pieces).
EXPENSIVE WHOLESALE PRICES
If you do a bit of quick calculation you’ll find that it’s actually hard to do business at those “wholesale” prices- $38/135 pcs = $0.28 per apple. If you need two apples to make one glass of fruit juice, for example, your cost is already $0.56 not including the cost of the cup, labor, rent, utilities, etc. It is no wonder therefore that more and more businesses are importing directly from overseas suppliers and bypassing the wholesale centre altogether.
Business has slowed down so much that the market which is owned and managed by HDB through its agents has called for a major study on the wholesale centre’s future viability. Currently, according to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), about 30% of fruit importers and 60% of vegetable importers in Singapore still have their warehouses, cold storage and distribution sites at the market.
So is it a matter of “how much longer” not “if” the market will remain open?