Retailers are jumping through hoops to keep prices low
Discount marts and convenience stores are bending their own rules and buying commodities in huge quantities early to help customers deal with inflation.
They are even redefining what qualifies as a blueberry.
Lotte Mart will be selling smaller blueberries at a discounted price, according to the company on Wednesday. Blueberries considered good for sale are normally bigger than 14 millimeters (0.55 inches) in diameter. But the retail chain will be selling blueberries smaller than that at up to 40 percent off.
"Freeze damage, drought and the disappearance of bees have affected blueberry farming this year," said Jeong Jae-woo, a product division manager at Lotte Mart. "We have decided to sell small blueberries at a lower price since they make up 15 to 20 percent of the entire yield."
In Lotte's sourcing regions, 10 tons of blueberries smaller than 14 millimeters will be grown this year, up 15 percent from the previous year, according to Lotte Mart.
Lotte Mart has been focusing on keeping its product prices as stable as possible amid concerns over global inflation. The company created a task force in March and has been keeping an eye out for over 500 products that equal 30 percent of its sales.
It bought 80 tons of pork belly imported from Canada this year, over three times the normal amount the company normally buys, assuming that the price of pork will go up later in the year. The price of pork belly strips in Korea is 3,990 won ($3.08) per 100 grams based on May's data, an increase of 23 percent compared to April.
The price will be further discounted as the government reduced tariffs on 50,000 tons of Canadian pork, from 8.6 percent to 0 percent.
Homeplus will sell Canadian pork at a 40 percent discounted price until July 6. Members of the retail chain will be able to purchase pork belly strips at 1,480 won per 100 grams, lower than the usual 2,210 won.
Convenience stores are selling food items such as meal boxes and triangular samgak gimbap that are close to their "sell by" dates at a discount. 7-Eleven said its Last Order app, which sells food items close to the expiration date at a cheaper price, was used 1.5 times more in June compared to the same period the previous year. Other convenience store chains such as CU and Emart24 also offer similar services.
Retail chains are finding ways to cut the prices of home appliances.
Electroman, Emart's home appliances brand, redesigned its electric fan and removed additional functions such as sleep mode and 3-D rotation. The brand used to manufacture fans for the summer between last December and January, but it started early in October last year, to purchase raw materials before costs rise.
To get lower prices, Electroman took early orders for 130,000 of its standard model. The product can be bought for 44,900 won, 10,000 won lower than the normal price, until July 13 with a designated credit card.
BY KIM MIN-SANG [email@example.com]