A smart consumer shops around

I’ve commented on this before and I’ll say it again, always always compare prices before plonking down your cash in an organic/health food store. My first foray into the new Brown Rice Paradise at Tanglin Mall has left me reeling (and empty-handed as I left the store), prompting me to repeat myself once again.

While some items were about the same price as elsewhere (such as Traditional Medicinals teas at S$12 a box, with an impressively wide selection too), some products were as much as double the price of other shops. For example, Avalon Organics toiletries go for S$19 compared to S$13.95 at any branch of Nature’s Farm, while the price organic maple syrup ranges from S$19.90 (exactly the same brand & size that’s sold in Carrefour for S$9.50) to $45 (for Coombs Family Farms brand 12oz bottle; sold in many other stores, such as Eat Organic, in 8oz size S$14-$15). Right now, I’m looking at a Market Place brochure that advertises Waitrose Organic Maple Syrup (No.1 medium grade, 330g, more or less 12 oz) for S$10.45!

In fact, it’s very much worth browsing around all the conventional supermarkets — especially those premium stores targeted at expatriates, such as Market Place — looking for the similar organic/health products, and I’ve often been surprised at just how reasonable the supermarket prices are, sometimes not too far off from the non-organic products. There are quite a few organic or natural food staples even in NTUC Fairprice, which is known more for its low-priced staples going back to its labour movement co-op roots. As organic products become more popular, the range of items stocked in regular stores is constantly growing too. In some stores, such as Market Place, organic products are no longer hived off into a special foods ghetto, but shelved alongside regular items. This is a good way of reaching out to consumers who would normally not look for organic/natural products, perhaps thinking that they are too strange or too expensive.

So I’m glad I put down the Nairn’s Organic Oat Cakes I picked up in Brown Rice Paradise costing S$9 (non-organic varieties priced almost the same), and made my way down to Market Place supermarket in the basement, where I found Waitrose Organic Oat Cakes at S$6, not to mention an great range of rice/corn cakes in three different brands available too. [Back on the anti-candida diet after some years, I’m rediscovering old friends — rice/corn cakes and oat cakes — to replace breads and sweet biscuits.]

The verdict on the new Brown Rice Paradise: looks great, a huge store, bright and fresh decor like a supermarket and a far cry from the dark, warehouse-like mess of the old store, but just like the old store, some items seem to be shockingly over-priced. I’d only head there for items I know can’t be found anywhere else. (On the other hand, Market Place supermarket is a fairly enticing reason to visit Tanglin Mall!)

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