I was going about my nightly oral hygiene care last week when I happened to look down at my mouthwash bottle and notice the red lion head that makes up our national symbol.
Really? This is made in Singapore?!
What’s all this about Singapore losing out in the manufacturing industry because of high manpower cost, high production cost and high high high costs? It set me off on a frenzy for what consumer products are still made in Singapore today.
Now I know there are quite a few articles out there written on Singapore brands. But what are the actual made-in-Singapore products which we can buy off the shelf? I don’t mean those Singapore-registered companies who has factories in cheaper neighbouring countries.
I mean really still manufactured and produced, no-shipping-cost, genuinely Made-In-Singapore stuff. Why buy other brands if we have a patriotic alternative? There’s no reason to complain if we don’t bother to help our home-grown pride and glories. There were quite a few surprises and a couple of disappointments while researching this article and it made me start to look at our industrial economy with a different eye.
So remember to write these down in your groceries list this week. And we totally understand if you feel like waving that tiny plastic Singapore flag as you read this.
They produce over 30 oral healthcare products made on our little island. Staying true to the ‘safe’ Singapore branding, they are the only oral care brand to publish their independent lab reports for every batch of products released for sale.
Whatsmore, they’re cheaper than some other major brands we might be using! Well, when they’re on offer anyway. I bought my Pearlie White mouthwash at 2 x 750ml bottles for around $7-8. And each use only calls for half a cap of solution, not the full cap.
Their products might seem more expensive on the whole as they most of them have specific whitening purposes. But apple-to-apple, they are cheaper. No reason to go back now!
2 – F&N Drinks
It’s another one of those everyday items we take for granted. F&N (Fraser & Neave) is actually a brand with over 130 years of history behind it. They now have a major hand in most of the better-known names in Singapore, including Coca-Cola, Tiger Beer, 100PLUS, Nestle, Times Publishing, Cold Storage and Frasers Centrepoint
So I guess its expected that they own a local manufacturing plant producing some of our favourite Fruit Tree juices and Nutri Tea drinks too.
A relatively new brand on the market that had quite a few grant from Singapore while developing. This is a classic example of new-generation Singapore brand and products – blending the old and the new.
We love our traditional flavours, but we want them at our own convenience. So what’s better than instant sauces for our favourite Singapore dishes? Let’s give a hand in helping another local company be remembered a hundred years down the road.
You’ve heard (and smelt) this one before. Axe Brand medicated oil has been a household name very probably since your grandmother’s time.
It is owned by the Leung Kai Fook Medical Company which was established in 1927 by Leung Yun Chee. The formula of the oil, though, was actually given to him by a German!
They had a hit with their marketing campaign back in the 1960s when Leung’s son, Leung Yun Chee, started giving out free samples to Muslims, because he knew they were getting seasick while travelling to their Haj pilgrimage.
Can I just say that apart from the brilliant targeted marketing strategy, my mind is still trying to wrap around the fact that Muslims still had to sail across oceans, in a ship, for pilgrimage. Oh, the X-Gen in me.
I do actually have friends who give/receive Axe Brand oils for their birthdays. Well, it won’t be me raising my eyebrows the next time. But they do need to find some of that marketing brilliance back again because, their website – really?
5 – Boncafe Coffee
While coffee is naturally not grown in Singapore, Boncafe still roasts and packs their own coffee beans in their factory over in Pandan Loop. Not all their products are produced in Singapore though.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending a Latte Art workshop on their premises a couple of years back, courtesy of Kiss 92FM, and that was where I got hooked onto gourmet coffee. Their coffee, when prepared properly, tasted like a mildly sweet hot chocolate. Boncafe will always have a special place in my heart from that first sip on.
Psst.. they still conduct Barista Workshops in their cozy showroom. Check it out on their Facebook page.
A classic snack which still lights up our eyes when mentioned. Especially with hot Milo or coffee… Please hang on while I drool a bit.
It’s ridiculous but those combinations still warm the bodies and hearts of most Singaporeans. So much so that I almost swell with pride when I researched and found out that they still make it in their Jalan Boon Lay factory.
The fact that their official name is really ‘Khong Guan Biscuit Factory’ is a little adorable. They did have factory tours for educational institutions only, but they are currently paused till 2016, according to their website.
7 – Koka Noodles
Produced by Tat Hui Foods Pte Ltd, this is honestly not the name that comes to mind when most people think of instant noodles. I’m not a huge lover of the food type as well, but I’ve tried Koka before and they don’t feel immediately as sinful as eating other brands.
I can only personally vouch for their Rice Noodles and Purple Wheat Noodles though. (Yes, was trying to find a healthy excuse to eat instant stuff) I love ‘kway teow’, and their Rice Noodles are the ones tastiest and closest to the real stuff’s texture. I look at it in supermarkets sometimes and still crave it.
Their Purple Wheat Noodles were a surprise. First purchased by my mum,, they are really not as bad as they sound. I still don’t know why it’s purple but it’s apparently high in antioxidants. And can be made into cold noodles too, though I’ve only tried their hot, soupy version. Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think.
Only a 2-generation business so far, Everson Electrical has several home electrical products and appliances under its name. PowerPac is just one of the brands under it. And, guess what, it’s less than half the price for their products, as compared the most other brands on the shelf. Buy lah!
Under Cheng Yew Heng, they claim the position of Singapore’s largest manufacturer of rock, red jaggery and black jaggery sugar. I don’t think they had huge competition in the first place but it’s still a mentionable achievement.
Star Brand is specifically for their industrial market while Cheng Brand is most likely the ones you’ll find in the supermarkets. I haven’t heard of them before writing this article too and I don’t think they are supplied to many major supermarkets. That said, I’ll keep my eyes peeled the next grocery shopping trip.
Their white and raw sugar are imported but they’re still a small Singapore brand worth supporting.
10 – Tiger Beer
No secret there. Many Singaporean beer-drinkers refuse to touch this, stating that it doesn’t match quality to many other imported beer. I think that’s just plain pretentiousness. Personally, I feel F&B products always taste better as fresh as possible.
I used to work just a street away but have never gone down for their factory tour and I heard its better there, fresh from the vat. Beer is not the alcohol of choice for me but I’ll never say no to a draft Tiger beer.
This was my favourite herbal oil my mum used to put on me when I was a child. I can’t really remember what exactly I used it for because it seemed we were able to put it on everything, even open wounds. It really worked too.
The memory is about feeling much better, not so much my wounds healing, and as a child I think that is what really counts. And the smell, as a kid, was definitely much more acceptable than most other medicated oils.
Including, believe it or not, their signature Crocodile Oil. I’ve honestly only seen a couple of all their products and maybe only ever touched one. But I’ve got to try this.
Their disclaimer states that their Crocodile Oil is a byproduct of the crocodile leather, and that no crocodiles were killed in making the oil. Each crocodile only gives you 800g of oil, and their website has it ‘Sold Out’. Maybe that’s why I’ve never seen it around.
Chop Wah On is selling in Changi Airport duty-free though. Apparently to cater to the higher demand from overseas visitors. I say, you’ve got to invest more in local marketing.
This is the oldest medicated oil company in Singapore, established in 1916, and you can still walk in everyday to their store at Upper Cross Street. Definitely worth a visit.
13 – Energizer Batteries
No, it’s not a Singapore brand. But it’s made in Singapore. Well, some of them, anyway. This might be the reason why you find some Energizer batteries going at a lower price than others.
The upside of buying Singapore-made Energizer batteries is that they are guaranteed for freshness, safety, and any harm to your device which uses the batteries. They are easily identifiable by their ‘Guaranteed in Singapore’ stamp on the corner of the packaging.
It’s not easy competing with your sister manufacturing plant in a nearby, cheaper country. And if I have a choice, I’ll choose the home team anytime.
14 – UIC Detergents
Officially Universal Integrated Corporation Consumer Products (UICCP). Whew. What a mouthful. It was much easier with their jingle.
UIC whoa-oh UIC… Clean and green for you and me.. UIC!
By the way, you can still hear that on their website. But be warned!! It will not leave your head for another 20 years!!! I’ve just refreshed that memory by listening to it, so I know.
This is another homegrown brand which has grown to have 2 manufacturing plants, one in Singapore and one in Malaysia. So take a look at the label and try and find out where you’re buying from.
15 – Tai Hua Soya Sauces
Of all the sauces that claim to be Singaporean, I only found one which is still manufactured in Singapore. Seeming to resonate with the theme, on their website’s product page, it even states which product of theirs are manufactured overseas.
It is also the one has the highest testimonies – being the sauce that most aunties turn to. ‘Nuff said.
There are quite a number of other Singapore-made items but I have left out a lot of which are not everyday items. Because it’s not any use if we can’t actually purchase them to support them, is it?
Now, I just want to state that I have nothing against imported goods. But it’s the fact that we are always looking overseas at the greener fields, or focusing on what is coming in and what’s not, that we forget that we have some damn good things that we can call our own.
Disclaimer: I have no relations with any of the aforementioned brands apart from being Singaporean. (Though I wouldn’t mind if they counted me as one of their relatives) I’m not being paid by them either but I won’t say no to any offers. 😉
Staring over your shoulder in supermarkets,
The Curious Passenger