Aim: The primary purpose of this study is to examine the food spending culture in Singapore
Methods: a qualitative case study design was employed for the research. A sample of 200 participants completed online questionnaires. The sample includes individuals residing in Singapore at the time the data was collected regardless of nationality.
Results: The results show that Household income, Gender, Family size, Nationality, Ethnicity, Age, Education, and Religion had a significant effect on food spending. The education level and household income had the most significant effect on food spending.
Conclusion: the study concludes that socio-demographic, socio-cultural, and economic factors play an important role in determining the food spending culture in Singapore. Spending is associated with the economic and social status of the consumer. The higher the household income the higher the food spending and older people spend more than younger consumers. Women are more likely to be conscious with food spending culture than men due to weight concerns.
Food is a basic human necessity for all people to survive. In other words, people have to eat food because it is a biological need for survival. However, both the socioeconomic and sociocultural characteristics affect the types and styles of eating (Besirli, 2010). The types and styles of eating vary from one society to another. As such, food consumption goes beyond the physical or biological nourishment but also meets the social, economic and cultural values of a given society. Culture plays an important role in bringing together individuals in societies i.e., it shapes the societies and the way people live. It is impossible to perceive a society without its own values and characteristics, or culture. Ethnographic studies stress the importance of beliefs, language, norms, symbols, religion, and values in shaping the culture of a society. However, these aspects of culture are subject to change because of globalization and technological advancements. As globalization and technology gather pace beliefs, language, norms, symbols, religion, and values of a people begin to morph into new once. These changes depend on the rate at which the people take part in the globalization and use the emerging technologies. According to Turan and colleagues (2005), there are both visible and invisible aspects of cultural values. The cultural values influence the general characteristics of societies in terms of similarities and differences depending on the acceptability of the values.
The peoples' way of life and their food consumption is influenced by culture. In addition to the cultural factors, it is important to note that other factors such as climate and geography, in general, affect the eating preferences of societies. Therefore, regional climate and cultural values influence the styles of eating of a society (Ozgen, 2015). For example, it is expected that people living in hot and dry conditions rely heavily on meat products because livestock is more readily available than vegetation. It is the climatic conditions that affect the type of food production of a particular region. While geographic factors affect the availability of certain foods, the choice of food and they type of consumption is solidly grounded on the religion, ethnicity, and traditions which are all cultural factors (Ozgen, 2015; Ozcelik Heper, 2015). The differences in climates, cultures, social, and ecological factors have affected the unique dimensions of cuisines worldwide in terms of variety, originality, and reputability (Aktas and Ozdemir, 2007).
In many cultures around the world, food plays an integral part in bringing people together. By eating with someone, the relationship with that person strengthens. It is a sign of trust between people because many individuals will hardly sit down and eat with someone or people they do not know or trust. Anthropologist Margaret Mead suggested that food is for gifting implying that other than receiving nutritional nourishment from eating, it is also very symbolic. In other words, it is usual for family and friends to exchange and share food.
On a cultural heritage level, Mead argues that food provides an important link to our cultural heritage. Whenever people who were raised in the same society meet elsewhere, preparation of food their traditional food is a way of reconnecting with the past. For example, a Chinese mother visiting a daughter in Canada decides to prepare a Cantonese dinner for the daughter and family. By doing so, they are reconnecting with their cultural heritage through Cantonese food. However, food consumption can be derogatory sometimes. In the colonial era, the colonialists used food to undermine the local cultures and introduce the locals into the Western system of domination (Askegaard & Bruns, 1999; Henderson, 2014).
Therefore, it is possible that when one orders food from a Singaporean restaurant, he or she might not be eating the traditional Singapore food. Instead, it might be food that was introduced from elsewhere and then naturalized into the mainstream Singapore food consumption culture.
The relationship of food with culture is a complex one. The way people eat differs across cultures. For example, in some cultures, people commonly eat using spoons, others chopping sticks, while others use bare hands to eat food. The cultural eating practices considered normal in one culture may be considered unruly in another (Henderson, 2016; Henderson, 2017; Stalmirska, 2017). For instance, finishing all the food on the plate is considered being polite in some cultures while in others places, it is seen as being rude. In some places, eating is considered a social event where two or more people gather to eat together while in other places it is perfectly alright to eat alone. Previous studies have linked food to religion as well as rituals. Followers of Hinduism, for example, give a wide berth to eating meat because some of the animals are considered sacred. Most importantly, food makes many people feel like they are part of a particular community (Everett, 2015; Everett, 2016).
Singapore cuisine is unique in nature. The food art is a combination of international cultures. As such, Singaporean cuisine is very diverse as a result of immigrants from the region and beyond. As these historical contexts spill into the present and immigrants with varying food practices continue to enter the country, so is Singapore continues to cement its global position as a food heaven (Feuer, 2015).
The foodscape is a constitution of both racial and religious diversity where each culture plays an important role in the local cuisine. Many food courts are buzzing with activities are any hour where customers go to eat at their favorite dining spots. People travel some distance to gather around popular food courts mainly as a leisure activity.
The high level of consumption of food in Singapore led to mushrooming of restaurants with available cuisines at every turn. As expected, the competition became so intense competition that enterprises had to find a way of staying competitive and keeping up with the times. The focus nowadays has shifted to the internet where restaurants compete to show the customers the best cuisines they have in order to entice customers to their respective food courts. This practice has transformed the way businesses engage with their clientele through social media and blogs.
In Singapore today, it is easy to compare the food or certain dishes thanks to the many listings created by bloggers, which conveniently helps the customers to open up to choices. In other words, the internet has become an integral part of the Singaporeans to which they turn to for advice on food. Websites frequently update lists on food courts with their respective cuisines and sometimes rank them according to the consumer taste and price. Smartphone applications allow the users to leave a review and leave their photos of their eating. This empowers the customers to rank their eateries. The online reviews influence other people's food decisions (Adams, 2016; Ramli et al., 2016).
The factors enumerated above are likely to influence the food spending culture in Singapore. According to industry reports, the overwhelming majority of consumers spent their money at the street stalls, hawker foods, and fast food outlets. Also, two in three consumers ate at restaurants or cafes. Very few consumed foods in a friend's house. This study aims at exploring the food spending culture in Singapore.
Research Aim and Objectives
The primary purpose of this study is to examine the food spending culture in Singapore. The specific objectives of the research include:
- To explore the extant literature to gain an understanding of the previous insights into the food spending culture
- To conduct primary research to determine the food spending culture in Singapore
The study is guided by the following research questions and hypothesis
R1. What are the factors influencing food spending habits in Singapore?
R2. How do the factors influence food expenditure in Singapore?
This chapter explores the previous literature on the food consumption culture. First, we make a distinction between food liking and food pre...
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