Founder of Makansutra KF Seetoh took to Facebook to comment on the recent acquisition of homegrown food court operator Kopitiam by NTUC Enterprise. Even though the acquisition was met with much backlash from Singaporeans, it was approved by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS).
In a statement released by the CCCS, they explained that the acquisition would not lead to a “substantial lessening of competition within relevant markets in Singapore”.
Following the acquisition, Seetoh wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday, December 20, “oh wow, NTUC is now cleared to takeover 100% equity in Kopitiam..says the CCCS, that anti competition body”.
When TISG contacted him for further comment regarding the situation, he added, “NTUC should be great and big by being great and big on their own. Not through buying and swallowing up giant competitors using public powered national cooperative monies”.
He continued, “If their interest is to set the tone and standards for good food and value, they should lead the way by building up their reputation and forcing the others to follow suit in response. Definitely not by eating up the competitors”.
Netizens who commented on Seetoh’s post were also unhappy because of the merger, and many griped about rising prices and a fall in standards of the food.
TISG wrote to NTUC Enterprise, and a spokesperson said, “NTUC Enterprise works as a group to fulfill our social mission of providing quality essential services and products. We moderate prices with the aim to encourage the market to stay competitively priced and so ensure good value every day for the Singapore community. Organic growth is already part and parcel of our business operations. However, as the opportunity presented itself we felt that it was something that would allow us to extend our social footprint in order to offer consumers accessibility to affordable cooked food at a faster pace.
The combined footprint of NTUC Foodfare and Kopitiam will strengthen our ability to provide affordable cooked food, thereby furthering our social mission of moderating the cost of living.
For example, NTUC Enterprise is working towards extending some existing initiatives, such as Rice Garden and specially priced Breakfast Set, at various consumer touchpoints.
- Rice Garden is NTUC Foodfare’s social outreach programme designed with lower-income consumers in mind. Rice Garden offers a mixed rice set comprising one meat and two vegetable dishes priced from $1.50 for ComCare and NTUC Foodfare Privilege cardholders; from $2.00 for senior citizens, students, full-time National Servicemen and NTUC Union members; from $2.70 for the general public.
- The NTUC Breakfast Set, available at NTUC Foodfare coffee shops, food courts, Bukit Panjang hawker centre, Kampung Admiralty hawker centre and Pasir Ris Central hawker centre, comprises a cup of coffee/tea, two soft boiled eggs and one kaya butter toast. It is priced at $1.80 for NTUC Union members and $2.20 for the general public.
Building on our ongoing efforts to moderate prices and provide consumers with more affordable cooked food, NTUC Enterprise is also looking at offering coffee and tea at reduced prices to all. Details will be announced in the first quarter of 2019.”