COVID-19: FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng urges shoppers who have excess stocks to donate to charity

Vernon Lee
Senior Editor
A woman wearing a protective mask passes empty shelves of instant noodles and canned food as people stock up on food supplies at a supermarket in Singapore on 8 February, 2020. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — FairPrice Group CEO Seah Kian Peng has called on shoppers who had bought excess stocks from supermarkets during the recent buying frenzy to donate them to charity.

The Marine Parade GRC Member of Parliament, who was speaking in Parliament on Wednesday (26 February) at the start of the Budget 2020 debate, was referring to the rush by many people to buy mostly daily essentials after Singapore raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level to “orange” on 7 February amid a rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus infection.  

In the first few days of the frenzy, many supermarkets and provision shops reported empty shelves where daily essentials were stocked and long queues. The situation eased considerably after several ministers and supermarkets gave assurances to the public that there are enough supplies of the items.

“What we will do is to encourage all those who had bought too much to donate these excess stocks to Food Bank or Food from the Heart. Perhaps I should set up a collection counter for them,” said Seah.

To instill calm during the frenzy, Fairprice introduced measures including purchase limits on some items, which attracted criticisms from “a minority group”, Seah said. 

“In fact, many also suggested to me that when this episode is over, that FairPrice should not allow people who stock up to return their excess goods to us to get a refund, this so as to teach people a lesson on buying responsibly and not hoard first only to return the stocks later,” said Seah. He was referring to FairPrice’s “goodwill” policy of allowing refunds for returned items.

According to FairPrice’s website, returned items must be in their original packaging with proof of purchase within seven days of the date they are bought or received.

Seah said during the buying frenzy on 7 to 8 February, he noticed that the shopping behaviour was broad-based across all age groups, races and social strata.

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