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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Shawn

F&B Trendspotting: The rise of Group Buys

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

A few weeks ago, I was told about a trend that had recently sprouted up during the Circuit Breaker period - Group Buys. The concept of a residential estate, group of friends, family and neighbours alike coming together to order food and ingredients baffled me. So, I set out to find out exactly what they do. I managed to connect with Patty, a full-time homemaker who'd recently started a Group Buy.

Patty's Group Buy

Patty is a mother of 4 who loves to cook for her children. However, when COVID-19 found its way into Singapore, Patty no longer felt that it was safe to go out on her usual trips to the supermarket to pick up produce and other cooking essentials. Forced with finding new alternatives to grocery shopping, she found out that F&B suppliers were actually opening up their business to cater to everyday consumers as well. However, while prices were at wholesale, it was nearly impossible to meet the high Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) - unless you really need 50kg of onions.... Hence, she enlisted the help of her friends, family, neighbours and relatives to make purchases as a group and VOILA, the beginning of Patty’s Group Buy which started with just 20 members, but has since exploded to a whopping 260 members today!

Ingredients bought this week:

The above is a collation of some of the products bought this week. It does change weekly because of different demand but mainstays like vegetables and fruits are regular staples while Boston Lobsters was the special item this week.

Although these looked like ordinary products you can get from local grocers and supermarkets, something that is very apparent with these products is that the quality & freshness are unparalleled. This was evident from their Portobello Mushrooms, that comes as fresh as it gets.

By buying straight from the distributor, you no longer have to worry about how long the products have been left out on the shelves and proceed to take the packet at the back!

Patty also shared with me about how ‘fresh scallops’ actually looked like. Contrary to popular beliefs, pristine-white scallops that have uniform shapes are actually anything but fresh. These white scallops are often soaked in a phosphate solution that whitens them and makes them absorb more liquid, increasing their weight by up to 30 percent, which quickly disappears when you start searing them on a hot pan. What you want to look for in a fresh scallop is a creamy colouration, just like the picture above.

Yummy! Check out these exotic buys of the week!

Apart from the usual fare, there are seasonal ingredients such as Black Gold Durians during the recent durian peak season and this week, the exotic ingredients include two huge sashimi-grade salmon fillets, Boston Lobsters (someone bought 30!!) and even Tomahawk Steaks, a rare cut of beef usually only found in butcheries.

Group-Buying Kitchen Torches?? Yes.

An interesting group buy made a while back was Kitchen Torches! The demand actually came about after two members shared recipes for aTomahawk Steak and Pork Loin Rack, which both required a blow torch. From there, a few buyers started showing their interests and Patty found a good deal on it from a supplier! Additionally, their sashimi-grade salmon supplier even ran a lucky draw promotion where 2 lucky members walked away with a blow torch, that they can use to make their own Aburi Salmon! Yum.

How to: Group Buy

So here’s how Group Buy works. First, from Sunday to Tuesday, a Google form is sent out for everyone in the WhatsApp group chat to indicate their interest in the different items. Next, orders and payment gets consolidated and confirmed by Thursday/Friday. After confirmation, suppliers will make the deliveries on Saturday itself, which is also the date of collection for the items you’ve ordered.

All you have to do is go to the designated pick-up location, sign your collection and your order will be sorted and packed for you! After checking, you can start looking forward to preparing for the feast!

Patty's take on Group Buys

When asked about whether she thinks Group Buys are here to stay, this is what Patty said: “Apart from the obvious benefits like buying better quality ingredients at better prices compared to supermarkets, I feel like the fostering of a sense of community is truly heart-warming. Although I know everyone from the group, not all of them know and/or have met one another. But when they come down to collect the items, they get to meet and chat, slowly starting to get to know each other and eventually becoming friends after meeting a few times.”

Closing thoughts

My first experience with a Group Buy has certainly opened up my eyes. It was so interesting to see the variety of ingredients that they were procuring on a weekly basis that have freshness you can never get at supermarkets. By buying from wholesalers/distributors/suppliers directly, you get lower prices for better ingredients, what a deal! And if you are gungho enough, you can certainly rally your homecook-kakis to strike a good bargain with suppliers!

I went in only wanting to discover and learn more, but I even bought an item before I left! It was a 18-piece frozen angus beef hamburger patty pack that I’m already half-way through (despite having it for only 4 days). In fact, I regretted not buying more ingredients to cook the burger patties with, as my visit to the supermarket right after to buy some mushrooms showed me the stark difference in quality and freshness because the boxes of odorous and slimy brown mushrooms seemed to have been left out for quite some time.

Join the fun!

If you are interested in joining the waitlist, drop me an email and I’ll help connect you with Patty.

But if you're too shy (like me) to join a group buy, don't worry! Zeemart Essentials is a marketplace that allows you to buy directly from wholesalers as well. To purchase, simply download our app and place your orders today!

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