Supermarket wades into Singapore infant formula dispute with low-cost product launch

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

The FairPrice Gold infant formulas are fortified with ingredients like omega-3. ©iStock
The FairPrice Gold infant formulas are fortified with ingredients like omega-3. ©iStock
Singapore supermarket chain FairPrice has launched a house-brand low-cost infant formula range in the wake of consumer and government complaints about the rising cost of branded milk products.

Regulators in the city state recently announced new rules that will restrict the health and nutrition claims formula milk manufacturers are allowed to place on their products’ packaging.

This followed a report from the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS), stating that formula milk manufacturers’ expenditure on R&D and marketing was inflating product prices.

In response, trade minister Koh Poh Koon said he wanted to increase infant formula options for consumers.

Now FairPrice — a supermarket chain operated as a social enterprise of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) — has obliged by introducing its first house brand of infant formula.

The range consists of three types of formula: FairPrice Gold Newborn Infant Formula (for newborns to children aged six months), FairPrice Gold Follow-On Formula (for children aged six to 12 months), and FairPrice Gold Growing-Up Formula (for children aged 12 months and above).

Each 900g tin of formula will retail for S$29, with the exception of the Growing-Up formula, which will be sold at S$27 per tin. In contrast, similar brands owned by the likes of Abbot and Mead Johnson normally retail for over S$50.

High quality at low prices?

FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng said, “The launch of FairPrice Gold formula milk adds another dimension to our ongoing efforts to holistically address parents’ concerns on rising costs of formula milk.

“Through our own house-brand label, we are able to provide very good value by offering a high-quality product at a price that is much lower than comparable brands.”

The ingredients used in the FairPrice Gold formulas are sourced from dairy farms in Australia’s Gippsland Region.

The formulas are then manufactured in a ‘pharmaceutical-grade’ facility that is subject to FSANZ (Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand) and AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore) standards.

In addition, all the formulas are fortified with galacto-oligosaccharides, lutein, nucleotides, omega-3 and omega-6, and do not contain any added sugar.

Regarding the comparably low prices of the product range, a FairPrice spokesperson said: “Being able to work directly with manufacturers allows us to cut out middlemen costs and provide better value to shoppers.

“Working directly and closely with manufacturers also helps us ensure that the products are of high quality, while ensuring that they remain affordably priced.”

Dairy diary

According to the spokesperson, the retailer had begun looking into developing its own brand of infant formula earlier this year.

It even managed to speed up the process of releasing the products in the Singapore market, launching the range in a mere two months.

Seah revealed: “The government’s review of import restrictions for formula milk allowed us to expedite the process of bringing this product to market at such a short period of time.”

The spokesperson also noted that since the launch, other named brands have also started offering discounts, and repackaging their products to provide better value”​.

The FairPrice Gold infant formula range will be available at all FairPrice outlets in Singapore, as well as Warehouse Club and FairPrice Online, adding to the 150-plus varieties of formula from different brands the retailer already carries.

Related topics: Markets, Emerging Markets, Nutritionals

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