Demand for tingkat services heat up as more stay and work from home
Tiffin-carrier meals a cheaper option for those working from home
Demand for tingkat (tiffin) services has heated up in recent months and reached its peak during the circuit breaker period, when most of Singapore stayed home.
Providers of meal delivery services said they saw up to a 100 per cent increase in requests for tingkat meals, with demand surging just before April as Singapore entered the circuit breaker.
Kim Paradise managing director Clement Tiang said that before the Covid-19 pandemic, it used to provide daily tingkat meals to about 5,000 people, or about 2,500 households.
But when the circuit breaker started, that jumped to 10,000 people daily in just two weeks.
"The logistics became so intense that we had to rent more vehicles to do deliveries," said Mr Tiang, 46.
Kim Paradise, one of the largest tingkat providers in Singapore, has been in the industry for more than two decades.
For smaller player FattyDaddyFattyMummy, inquiries for its tingkat services started coming in around February, when work-from-home plans began kicking in.
"When the circuit breaker came in April, orders went up and increased by about 30 per cent in May," said the catering firm's director, Ms Fion Lim, 39.
Before the pandemic, it served about 500 tingkat meals daily. When Covid-19 hit, this reached almost 750 meals, said Ms Lim. "We had to reject orders because we had reached the maximum capacity, and we didn't have enough manpower," she said.
She employs about 12 people, and safe distancing restrictions in the kitchen based in Woodlands made it hard to hire more workers.
Tingkat catering, which Kim Paradise touts as an option for households that want "proper and home-cooked" meals, usually appeals to working couples, the elderly and families with young children, said Mr Tiang.
But as of late, new customers have come on board, including front-line staff and those who work from home.
Mr Tiang said: "If people do not cook, one of the options is to order tingkat. Most people do not want to eat hawker food or order delivery from restaurants every day."
Ms Lim also said some families chose to order tingkat as staying home all day, every day, and having to prepare all three meals proved to be "overwhelming" for them.
For FattyDaddyFattyMummy, which has been in the industry for four years, there was a significant increase in orders for its Love, Tingkat! menu, which offers healthier options.
Like tingkat services, home-grown skincare brands with online stores also experienced a boom in business, as more people stayed home, forgoing make-up and paying more attention to skincare products.
For home-grown brand Skin Inc, online sales were about 400 per cent more than the usual in-store sales for its skincare serums and devices, said global brand manager Rani Lanyifan Wang, 28.
"This is a record for our online sales," she said of the company founded 12 years ago.
Likewise, business for local skincare label Rooki Beauty increased five fold, with new customers learning about the brand through word of mouth, said its founder Hayley Teo, 27.
There has also been a spike in demand for logistics and warehousing services, drawing new players into the field.
One example is Mr Melvin Tan and two business partners, who pumped in about $50,000 to start Flow Services, a food logistics and warehousing business serving mainly small and medium-sized enterprises.
"Many companies will be consolidating or expanding during this period, so that is where we come in," said Mr Tan, 33.
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