Singapore: Rice is still No. 1
SINGAPOREANS’ love affair with bread is evident in the number of neighbourhood and new-fangled bakeries that have popped up in recent years. In the last two years, about 130 bread vending machines have also been placed at places like condominiums and housing estates. Ms Joyce Koh, senior vice-president of brand development at home-grown bakery chain BreadTalk, said Singaporeans are eating more bread, and the company has seen sales increases of 15 to 20 per cent every year. “Singaporeans are exposed to a wide variety of cuisine genres and are now receptive to Western-style meals.
Picking up sandwiches or breads for meals has become commonplace,” she said. In a National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) in 2010, the average daily consumption of bread here tripled from 66.4g in 2004 to 171.4g. That is an increase of slightly more than two slices of bread a day to about six slices.
In contrast, although bread consumption did not overtake that of rice, average daily consumption of rice fell slightly during the same period, from 495.1g to 449.7g. That constitutes to a drop of less than half a bowl of rice a day. But rice is still No. 1. Statistics from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority and International Enterprise Singapore showed that Singaporeans ate 264,941 tonnes of rice in 2010. In the same year, 224,400 tonnes of wheat-based products, including wheat flour and wheat starch were consumed.
A spokesman for supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice said: “It appears that rice is still the primary food which Singaporeans consume.” He added that in the last five years, sales of rice have grown by about 80 per cent while sales of bread have increased by about 50 per cent. To respond to customers’ demands, FairPrice also increased its range of rice by about 30 per cent, while its range of bread increased by about 20 per cent in the last five years. But HPB dietician Gladis Lin said neither white bread nor white rice are particularly healthy and Singaporeans should incorporate other carbohydrates like wholegrains.