High-end fruit out of reach for most shoppers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 4:37am

For most shoppers, luxury fruit is a novelty or, at the very least, not something that can be enjoyed every day.

Food and utility bills account for up to 80 per cent of a family's outgoings, according to government data, and food price rises have been a big driver of Hong Kong inflation. The Census and Statistics Department says food prices went up 4.3 per cent in 2012. Among major household costs tracked by the survey only housing rose more than food - rising at an annualised rate of 5.1 cent in December.

The fact is, in this city of extreme wealth, large portions of the population find it difficult to manage the cost of food.

There are several supermarkets that cater to the less well off, such as the Kaibo chain. The Kaibo on Wan Chai Road is a stone's throw from the Bowrington Road wet market. Kaibo - somewhat amazingly - routinely undercuts the wet market on prices.

Edna Madela who shops at the store regularly says she does not know where Kaibo sources its produce. "China probably," she says, "but the wet market is most likely all from China and this store is even cheaper than the wet market."

Other supermarkets such as International sell nearly expired goods at discount prices. Bargain hunters can look for the bright red and yellow stickers with the words "Reduced: Still Fresh" that International places on products that are close to their expiry date.

Mr Liu, the manager of an International store in Causeway Bay, says by selling this kind of goods, the store is able to offer big discounts. For example, a litre of fruit juice at International with four days left was only HK$9 instead of the usual HK$18.60. A block of Boursin garlic and herb cheese with five days until expiration was almost half its usual price, HK$36 instead of HK$61.90.

Shoppers have to be careful that the goods still meet their standards for consumption. Money Post conducted an onsite inspection of Mega supermarket in To Kwa Wan, which sells fruit and veg of varying stages of freshness - but it was all cheap. Two apples with wrinkled skin sold for HK$5 and four Buddha fruit turned half black cost HK$10.