Selling costly products at discounted prices is a tried and tested marketing strategy employed by businesses across the globe; however, the profit maximising gimmick has been misused by department stores across the city, who in the hopes of boosting sales are supplying expired imported eatables to consumers.
With high inflation compelling many consumers to avoid purchasing costly imported items altogether, department stores in Lahore have come up with an ingenious albeit malicious marketing strategy to attract local consumers into buying eatables manufactured across different countries.
In an attempt to promote their products and boost their sales, store owners are ordering huge shipments of expired imported eatables like chocolates, beverages like fruit juices and energy drinks, alongside shelved items like jams, through illegal Afghan trade routes and are relabeling their expiration dates by using high-tech laser printers before selling them to buyers at discounted rates at several markets including the Shah Alam Market.
“Almost 70 per cent of the imported chocolates, candies, jams and other items currently being sold at shops, including various megastores in Lahore, are expired and smuggled,” disclosed a trader from the Shah Alam market, on the condition of anonymity.
“These hoarders buy expired items auctioned in different countries, and reprint their packaging and expiration dates before putting them on the shelves of popular stores at discounted prices to attract customers.”
Read Food scientists dish out low-cost solutions
The trader was of the view that strict customs surveillance at the border areas was crucial in order to curtail the sales of expired food items, which were playing with the health and safety of the public.
Dr Habib, a medical expert, seconded the traders’ concerns by confirming the serious health consequences for buyers consuming expired food items. “Not only do expired food items taste different, but they also risk inducing stomach, skin and respiratory diseases among consumers, especially young children,” warned Dr Habib.
“Shopkeepers are well aware that the consumption of expired food items can be harmful for customers. However, making profit reigns supreme,” opined an employee working at a popular department store in Lahore, who further revealed that the salesmen of food distribution companies approach their store and offer expired food items at discounted prices.
Talking to The Express Tribune on the matter, Asif Dogar, Senior Officer at the Punjab Food Authority confirmed the gravity of it. “We continue to take action against the sellers of expired food items. During the last few years, we have checked 239 wholesalers and 3,300 retailers, out of which 758 violations have been reported. As many as 49 wholesalers and 662 retailers were fined over Rs 5,000,000 while 38 businesses have been sealed and 4 cases have also been registered,” assured Dogar.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th2023.