With the current global pandemic ongoing, our lifestyle and habits have changed significantly as we learn to adapt to the new normal. According to April 2020 Retail Sales Index, when most of us were working from home last year, groceries sales increased by 30% month-on-month. As Singapore is currently in the middle of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) with no dining in options, our demand for groceries has returned once again.
As the sales continue to grow for our local supermarkets, you may be curious to know how much Singaporeans spend on groceries. To answer this question, we will be using data extracted from 2017/2018 Household Expenditure Survey to uncover Singaporeans’ monthly groceries expenditure.
The Average Singaporean Household Spends $388.70 Per Month On Groceries
|Type of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages||Total Amount (SGD$)||Total Percentage (%)|
|Bread and Cereals||$69.60||18%|
|Fish and Seafood||$57.30||15%|
|Milk, Cheese and Eggs||$42.00||11%|
|Oils and Fats||$7.70||2%|
|Sugar, Jam, Honey, Chocolate and Confectionery||$13.30||3%|
|Food Products N.E.C||$14.20||4%|
|Coffee, Tea and Cocoa||$11.40||3%|
|Mineral Water, Soft Drinks, Fruit and Vegetable Juices||$10.40||3%|
|Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages N.E.C||$5.90||2%|
N.E.C = Not elsewhere classified
The average Singaporean household spends about $388.70 each month on groceries. That is close to $400.
However, that is not the full amount Singaporeans are spending on food. The average Singaporean household spends about $1,199 a month on food and groceries, accounting for about 20% of the average household expenditure. With groceries accounting for 32% of the food expenditure, it does seem like Singaporeans prefer dining out or getting takeaways, over getting groceries for a home-cooked meal.
The information on 2017/2018 Household Expenditure Survey does not stop here. For each grocery segment, the Singapore Department of Statistic breaks it down further into the different items households generally purchase.
Here, we will cover four interesting facts about our average household groceries expenditure.
#1 We Spend More On Bread Than Rice
Looking at the first chart, you might be wondering which segment do “rice” falls into. For classification purposes, rice falls under “Bread and Cereals” as it is under the carbohydrate family.
|Bread and Cereals||Total Amount (SGD$)||Total Percentage (%)|
|Cakes and pastries||$21.20||30%|
|Biscuits and cookies||$7.50||11%|
|Noodles and pasta||$5.40||8%|
|Other cereals and cereal preparations||$3.90||6%|
Based on the percentage of expenditure spent, rice comes in third. This could be attributed to the relatively affordable price of rice. At the supermarkets, it is possible to find a packet of 5kg rice for the price of about $11.
Interestingly, cakes, pastries, and bread amount to almost 58% of carbohydrate expenditure for the household. This Singaporean demand for baked goods was also made apparent during the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker as home bakeries sales rose in the period.
#2 We Spend Almost As Much On Fruits And Vegetables As On Fish And Meats
|Meat + Fish||Total Amount (SGD$)||Total Percentage (%)|
For household expenditure on protein, the average household spends the most on fresh fish at $34 per month, almost 7 times more than chilled beef. This could be due to the price of fish which is relatively more expensive than meat per gram, as well as a preference for fresh fish over other types of fish (such as frozen, canned and processed).
However, in general (including frozen, canned, and processed products), Singaporeans still spend more monthly on meat at $60.30 compared to $57.30 for fish and seafood.
For a balanced meal, consuming vegetables and fruits apart from meat is important for a healthy diet. Based on our monthly groceries’ expenditure, Singaporeans are healthier than we may have expected. Spending $96.70 on fruits and vegetables, the amount is close to our meat, fish, and seafood expenditure of $117.30 per month.
On the fruits and vegetable segment, Singaporeans spend slightly more on vegetables than on fruits. However, if we only compare fresh fruits and vegetables, Singaporeans actually spend more on fresh fruits at $40.40 compared to $36.50.
This is not entirely surprising as fresh fruits tend to be more expensive than vegetables on a cost per gram basis. While we spend more on fresh fruits, we may not actually consume more fresh fruits compared to fresh vegetables.
#3 We Buy More Coffee Than Tea But Spend The Most On Soft Drinks
|Type of Beverage||Total Amount (SGD$)||Total Percentage (%)|
|Cocoa and malt beverages||$3.10||14.1%|
|Fruit and vegetable juices||$2.80||12.7%|
*Against the average amount, the total amount of Beverage has a +$0.20 due to rounding differences.
Based on the table above, Singaporeans can be considered more of a coffee nation than a tea nation. Overall, Singaporeans prefer to consume soft drinks above other types of beverages, accounting for 27% of our average household expenditure on beverages.
As one of the countries that provide 100% of their population access to portable water, mineral water is one of the lowest expenditures on the beverage list.
Read Also: 3 Reasons Why Evian Water Is So Expensive
#4 Households Living In HDB Flats Spend A Larger Proportion Of Their Household Expenditure On Groceries
|Types of Housing||Total Percentage of Population (%)||Total Amount (SGD$)||Percentage of Total Household Expenditure (%)|
|1- & 2-Room HDB Flats (including studios)||5.8%||$182.90||10.8%|
|3-Room HDB Flats||17.8%||$261.80||7.9%|
|4-Room HDB Flats||31.8%||$371.90||7.9%|
|5-Room & Executive HDB Flats||23.5%||$448.00||7.1%|
|Condominiums & Other Apartments||15.6%||$459.40||4.7%|
Different households can spend more or less than the average expenditure of $388.70 on groceries depending on the household size. A household living in a 4-room HDB flat (which is the most common household type in Singapore) has a total expenditure of $371.90 which is slightly lower than the average household expenditure.
Households living in public housing spend a larger proportion of their income on groceries. While households living in 1- and 2-room HDB flats spend less than the average ($182.90 compared to $388.70), groceries actually form a larger proportion of their overall household expenditure at 10.8%, compared to the average of 6.6%. The proportion of expenditure on groceries for smaller households (10.8% for 1- and 2-room HDB flats) is more than double that of households living in condominiums and landed properties (4.7% and 5% respectively).
Based 2017/2018 Household Expenditure Survey, groceries only account for 6.6% of our total average monthly household expenditure of $4,906. As Singaporeans continue to adapt to the New Normal, our spending habits and patterns would inevitably change during this period. Groceries are an essential household expenditure, and the stay-home period can result in a significant rise in our groceries expenditure. As we are working from home, we can expect an increase in our groceries expenditure. However, if the increased groceries expenditure is being offset by the savings from lesser takeaways and dining out sessions, we can still stay within our household expenditure budget.
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