Seven-Eleven, Lawson to discount foods close to expiry to cut waste

Japan's top convenience store chain operator Seven-Eleven Japan Co. introduces shorter opening hours on a trial basis on March 22, 2019, amid a serious labor shortage. (Kyodo). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, May 17, 2019, Kyodo. Japanese convenience store operators Seven-Eleven Japan Co. and Lawson Inc. said Friday they will start discounting rice balls and lunch boxes close to their expiry dates to reduce food waste, reported The Mainichi.

Both will offer 5 percent of the value of the purchases in points to participants in the chains’ point programs.

The move by the companies to embrace discounts across their chains is also expected to benefit outlets struggling with rising payroll costs.

Industry leader Seven-Eleven will start giving points to purchasers of any of the around 500 items targeted, mainly lunch boxes, rice balls, noodles and bread, which are set to expire in four to five hours. The initiative will be launched from this fall at around 20,000 stores nationwide.

In a similar move, Lawson said it will start a trial at its stores in Ehime and Okinawa prefectures to offer rewards of 5 percent of the price in points to customers who buy from 4 p.m. or later rice balls and lunch boxes nearing expiration.

In the trial running from June 11 to Aug. 31, Lawson will also separately donate 5 percent of the proceeds of sales of items close to expiry to entities supporting childrearing. The company will consider expanding the discount system to stores nationwide based on the outcome of the experiment.

“We will try to cut food loss by 50 percent by 2030 from the current levels,” Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu told a press conference. “It will be beneficial to customers, the environment and our storeowners who had to carry the costs to discard unsold items.”

Lawson said its 2,500 stores discarded around 44,000 tons of still-edible food in the year through March 2018.

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