Hong Kong’s CitySuper supermarket, which was criticised for selling a single “overpackaged” imported strawberry at HK$168, says that the fruit was a premium grade pre-packaged import.

“The strawberry gift box was imported from Japan with its original packaging given its premium grade, rarity and fragility for quality protection,” a spokesperson told HKFP. The supermarket added that the fruit was meant as a Valentine’s Day gift.

“The strawberries are considered as delicacies of limited quantity and they are handpicked to ensure only the highest quality ones are harvested,” it added.

CitySuper also defended the retail pricing of the strawberry, citing considerations including purchase price, logistical cost, market conditions and product exclusivity.

See also: A ludicrous strawberry and the case for better alternatives to plastic packaging

Excess packaging of food by supermarkets has come under the spotlight in recent weeks. Last week, non-profit organisation Ocean Recovery Alliance campaigned against fruit “socks” made out of foam.

The alliance estimated that the Wellcome supermarket alone discards 83 tonnes of foam per year as a result of packaging, which would have been worth HK$250,000 if recycled.

CitySuper told HKFP that it was trying to strike a balance between environmentally-friendly packaging and food protection.

いただきもののいちご? #?#premium#kotoka#古都華

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“In the past years, we have been gradually reducing the amount of pre-packed fruits and vegetables by introducing more loose sales of fruits and vegetables,” it said. “Bio-degradable clear plastic bags and shopping bags, food trays and containers made of sugar cane fibre and… cornstarch, are increasingly used to reduce the use of plastics in our stores.”

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.