Ensuring affordable food options for Singaporeans 

04/07/2024

The PAP Government has rolled out various initiatives to provide consumers with affordable food options in response to increasing prices of hawker food.    

A report by the Department of Statistics found that the prices of food and beverages sold at food courts, coffee shops and hawker centres increased by 5.7 per cent in 2022 and 6.1 per cent in 2023. 

PAP Members of Parliament Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC), Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang SMC) and Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang SMC) asked questions in Parliament about rising hawker food prices. 

Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said hawker food prices were mainly driven by costlier imported food ingredients due to supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. 

According to National Environment Agency (NEA) surveys, raw materials and labour costs accounted for an average of 56 per cent and 20 per cent of hawkers’ operating expenses in 2022, respectively – the primary cost drivers for hawker centre stallholders, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu added.   

Mr Gan noted import prices for food commodities have started falling since the third quarter of 2023 due to lower global food commodity prices. Hawker food inflation moderated to 3.7 per cent in May 2024, broadly in line with CPI-All Items inflation of 3.1 per cent in May.  

The government understands Singaporeans’ concerns about higher daily expenses, he reiterated. It has introduced measures like enhancing the Assurance Package in Budget 2024 by $1.9 billion to address this. The enhancement includes an additional $600 worth of CDC Vouchers for all Singaporean households to use at hawker centres, heartland shops, and supermarkets. 

The first $300 tranche was released on June 25, and the second will be disbursed in January 2025. Singaporeans will receive further support this year, including the Cost-of-Living Special Payment in September 2024. 

Mr Gan said HDB also worked with coffee shop operators to offer low-cost meal and drink options, which the public can access through the BudgetMealGoWhere website.  

The Consumers Association of Singapore also developed the Price Kaki app which enables consumers to easily compare food item and grocery prices from different sellers. 

NEA provides a conducive operating environment for hawkers: Grace Fu 

On supply side measures the government adopts to keep hawker food affordable, Ms Fu noted that NEA provides an operating environment conducive for hawkers. It limits rent for hawker stalls by not setting reserve rents for tenders and prohibiting subletting.  

For socially conscious enterprise hawker centres, NEA evaluates proposals holistically, considering total costs for hawkers, before awarding contracts, she added. Operators of these hawker centres have also pledged to offer at least one value meal option at each stall, as part of their commitment. 

Additionally, NEA provides support measures to help hawkers improve productivity. Some SEHC operators tap their networks to offer bulk purchasing services aimed at moderating ingredient costs.