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Last of the traditional bakeries in Singapore

Last of the traditional bakeries in Singapore

Singapore, December 1, 2012

IN THE 1970s, as many as 200 traditional bakeries producing conventionally prepared breads and buns dotted the island.

Now, there are just eight left.

This is due to a whole gamut of problems ranging from rising operations costs and a lack of manpower to competition from modern shops such as BreadTalk, said the bakery owners left in the trade.

It does not help that the work is gruelling. The bakeries are open all day and operate through the night, churning out batch after batch of freshly baked bread.

At Sing Hon Loong in Whampoa, for example, almost 1,400 loaves of traditional brown and white crustless breads are made and distributed to hawkers and cafes daily. The bakery also produces 1,400 buns, rolls and french loaves every day.

"Few Singaporeans are willing to pick up the trade and work in such a hot and stuffy environment," said Mr Ng Yek Heng, 56, who owns Sweetlands Confectionery and Bakery. "Those who come to us for training do not complete it. They give up because the hours are long and the work is tough."

Like other small and medium-sized enterprises, bakeries have had to rely on foreign manpower, but there have been hiring curbs since mid-2009.

On top of that, business is no longer as good as it once was. "We were easily making $8,000 every month in 2003 but in the past three years, we can barely cover our output," said Mr Ng.

He noted, for example, that rent has jumped from $4,000 in 2003 to $9,000 for the three units Sweetlands leases at Kim Keat.

And while there is still demand for additive-free breads, the jump in cost of ingredients is also hurting profit margins, said Mr Mah Hock Hiong, 50, who owns Jie Bakery and Confectionery.

A 25kg packet of flour which cost $16.50 in 2003, for instance, now costs $30.

"We can't really pass on the increases to clients so we have to absorb some of the cost," said Mr Mah, adding that a loaf of bread which sells for $1.40 at his store has increased by just 40 cents over the past 20 years.

>> Read the full article here.

The remaining 8

  • Sweetlands: 10-12 Kim Keat Lane
  • Jie Bakery: 123 Upper Paya Lebar Road
  • Jie Cafe: 953 Upper Serangoon Road
  • Sing Hon Loong: 4 Whampoa Drive
  • Chin Mee Chin: 204 East Coast Road Singapore
  • Gin Thye: Several outlets including one at Block 513 Bishan Street 13 #01-504
  • Balmoral Bakery: Block 105 Clementi Street 12 #01-06
  • Love Confectionery: Block 122 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-60


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Traditional bakeries in Singapore

There¡¯s an interesting article in today¡¯s Straits Times about the dwindling number of traditional bakeries in Singapore. According to the report, there are only 8 such bakeries left in Singapore.

But I am a bit puzzled, because, just earlier this month, my friend James Kwok brought me to see one such bakery in Block 39, Teban Gardens; and it is not in the above list. The owner was his ex-neighbour. Could they have made a mistake; or has this shop closed down since James and I were there just 3 weeks ago on the 5th of November?

Do you know of any other such bakeries in Singapore that are not mentioned in this article? I have seen one at Lorong 6, Toa Payoh; but that was a couple of years ago. Not sure it is still there.

Anyway, I think such shops deserve our support. In you are in the neighbourhood, do drop by and patronize the shop. Don't forget to bring your camera along and take some shots. Even if the business survives, this old building may not escape our government relentless 'upgrading' efforts.

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