Supermarket chain City’super has come under fire for selling strawberries in individual wrapping and offering them at an eye-popping price of HK$168 (US$21.65) per fruit.
It came after a photo began circulating online of a specially packaged Japanese strawberry that is being sold by the retailer ahead of Valentine’s Day.
In the photo, a strawberry is seen nestled in a pink styrofoam net and stored in a tiny gift-like box containing straw.
The fruit, with individual wrapping and having a total of four-layer protection, bears a price tag of HK$168.
The extravagant wrapping and the selling of each fruit separately, rather than the usual practice of putting a batch of strawberries together in one box, has sparked intense discussion on social media.
Many people said they were shocked that “each fruit” was being sold for the equivalent of more than US$20.
A commentator remarked that for HK$168, one can get three, four or even five meals in Hong Kong, news website hk01.com noted.
The supermarket operator was criticized for not only for the high price it was selling the imported strawberries, but also for the excessive packaging that comes with each of the fruit.
As the photo went viral, it drew the attention of some foreign media outlets, including Time magazine, with the coverage mostly centered on the excessive packaging of the fruit.
Some environmental groups slammed City’super for selling over-packaged fruit and urged consumers to make a wise decision as to whether they should patronize such products.
Meanwhile, a green group said it will launch a campaign demanding that supermarkets reduce their food packaging. Activists aim to collect at least 100,000 signatures from the public for the campaign.
Responding to the feedback, a City’super spokesman claimed that the strawberries in question, which are from Nara, Japan and will be only offered for Valentine’s Day, should be treated as a special case.
The fruits are very precious given their scarce yield, the spokesman said, also adding that the strawberries are handpicked one by one to ensure premium quality. Moreover, the fruits were big, almost the size of half of a palm.
While defending the special strawberry sale, the spokesman tried to assuage critics by saying that his firm has been working hard to find ways to offer as little non-prepackaged fruit and vegetable as it can, according to news website Topick.
In other remarks, the spokesman pointed out that the supermarket chain has begun using biodegradable bags to help the environment.
City’super has noted the public’s concerns over packaging and will do its best to achieve balance between packaging, food quality and hygiene, he added.
As for the eye-popping price, the spokesman said that there are multiple factors involved, including supplier’s price, logistics costs, market demand and uniqueness.
- Contact us at [email protected]kej.com