Supporting shops that resell surplus and short-dated products is a step to realise a greener year of a sustainable lifestyle
The concepts of “Best Before” and “Use By” products are not new in Hong Kong to inform consumers on the quality of food before they purchase. If food is beyond the best before date, the quality will drop gradually whilst “use by” is to define the safety of food, usually chilled food, and any of such items reached their use-by date shall remove from shelves.
These two labels provide convenience for busy city dwellers to ensure food is safe to consume, but we might easily be confused by these two labels and simply remove any food with labels beyond the date, be it “best before” or “use by”. As a result, over 150 million expired food items are being thrown away each year because it has passed its “best before” date. However, if this food is stored properly, it can still be consumed.
Seeking opportunities to salvage short-dated food in the market, social enterprise GreenPrice has been looking for ways to save these foods that are beyond their best before date from landfills by reselling them in the market.
“Our government has been promoting the right concept of treating short-date food since long time ago. However, there was no proper way for consumers to buy those products, that’s the reason we created GreenPrice as a channel for reselling purposes,” says Terence. “At first, consumers came to GreenPrice with uncertainties. They came to observe, and our shopkeepers never get tired of explaining the ‘best before’ concepts to them. Now, as we have opened more shops, we have seen people accept this idea with a more open mind.”
Imported goods at lower price
As a social enterprise, GreenPrice is different from other businesses. It does not have any specific consumers to target whilst product supplies are unstable. At the end of the day, reselling the short-dated products is still a concept new to Hong Kong. Consumers will find that the range of products at GreenPrice varied from time to time, which are not goods that could be found in supermarket chains usually, but imported high-quality goods at lower prices.
“Sourcing goods has been an issue for us. Our products mostly come from small and medium-sized shops which import brand-name products with prices comparatively high. At first, these shops were uncertain about working with us since if we could not resell their products on time, the quality of the goods will drop further, then it will not be good to resell them to consumers,” says Terence. To make sure such products are sold soon, they intentionally markdown the price to attract consumers.
Now that GreenPrice has shops opened in various locations, some in CBD areas, some in industrial districts, and recently they have set up stores in shopping malls in residential areas – all serve as a testing ground for Green Price. What Terence has observed is that shops in CBD areas perform better and those that target families need more time to pick up as traditionally, families used to shop at supermarkets for stocks are more readily available.
Ensuring stable product supplies is a top priority to GreenPrice, thus, they have started importing short-dated products from other Asian cities. This also helps those cities to resolve their issue of excessive products. Interestingly, Hong Kong is one of the pioneers in reselling short-dated products when this concept is just at a budding stage in other Asian cities.
However, being the first in Asia is not the goal GreenPrice to achieve. On the other hand, as Terence jokingly says, businesses like GreenPrice should not exist if there’s no surplus or short-dated food wasted in the market.