Convenience stores find way around 'sell by' dates
Effort by convenience stores to get rid of food close to its "sell by" date have proved to be new source of revenue.
In order to prevent expiring food from going into waste, major convenience store chains in Korea – GS25, CU, 7-Eleven – teamed up with channels through which the food and beverages can be sold for discounts of up to 60 percent.
Items at particular risk of being wasted include dosirak (packaged meals), milk and baked goods.
7-Eleven was the first to get rolling. In February 2020, it teamed up with Last Order, an app that offers food items close to their "sell by" dates at a discount.
Around 4,600 types of products from 10,000 7-Eleven stores are now offered on Last Order, up 1,300 percent up from 330 kinds when it started the service.
People who use Last Order's app pick up the products at a designated convenience store.
Sales from the top hundred 7-Eleven stores linked to Last Order jumped 27.8 percent from January through July compared to the same period last year.
The service “creates a virtuous cycle of reducing waste and raising sales,” said Lim Do-hyun, a spokesperson for 7-Eleven. “It also encourages a store owner to place more orders, unlike before when they placed orders more conservatively over concerns about products that would have to be discarded.”
CU, run by BGF Retail, followed 7-Eleven's lead in June 2020.
Around 2,000 CU stores sell 3,000 types of products on Last Order.
CU said snacks accounted for the largest portion of sales, 25.5 percent, followed by ramyeon at 14.2 percent, biscuit and cookies at 11.7 percent and desserts at 8.7 percent.
BGF Retail said fresh food, like dosirak, was less popular on Last Order.
GS Retail chose to team up with Danggeun Market in July.
People can find discounted products from GS25, GS Supermarket and GS Fresh on Danggeun Market, make a payment on the app and pick them up at a store.
So far, more than 70,000 people subscribed to GS Retail’s service on Danggeun Market.
“The service prevents what would have become a loss and turns that into a profit,” said Kim Ha-yan, a spokesperson for BGF Retail.
Lee Sung-hwa, another GS Retail spokesperson, said the service is part of the company’s effort to “strengthen the ESG (environmental, social, governance) initiative by creating virtuous cycle of resources.”
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]