The Kotoka strawberry, a handpicked delicacy grown in Japan’s Nara prefecture, is being sold in Citysuper’s Causeway Bay outlet in Times Square. Images circulating online show the fruit swaddled in pink styrofoam and nestled in a box filled with synthetic straw, with a plastic seal over the top of the box.
This is not the only luxury Japanese fruit sold by the supermarket chain, and nor is premium fruit a new addition to Citysuper. Images published by the Hong Kong Free Press show a watermelon priced at HK$1488 (US$192), a bunch of grapes sold for HK$888 (US$114), and an apple sold for HK$4288 (US$553).
In Hong Kong, gifting fruit is a common practice, especially during culturally significant periods such as the Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Valentine’s Day. Premium produce from Japan is favored because these luxury fruits are known to be sweeter and tastier than regular fruit, in addition to being attractive and blemish-free. A spokesperson for Citysuper told the HKFP that the strawberry is intended to be a Valentine’s Day gift.
However, Citysuper’s Kotoka strawberry is coming under public fire just as a petition against wasteful plastic packaging is circulating in Hong Kong’s social media circles. The petition calls for “every single large grocery store chain in Hong Kong to stop the excessive and unnecessary use of plastic wrap and plastic containers for their produce,” and its intended recipients comprise some of Hong Kong’s biggest supermarket chains, including Citysuper.
In a statement to the South China Morning Post, a Citysuper spokesperson stated: “We have noted recent customer feedback [about] the packaging and we will seek to strike a balance between packaging and food protection.”