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China: Hotmaxx grows fast

Too thrifty to shop for pricy food? A new discount grocery retail chain began popping up all over Beijing over just the past few months after opening more than 50 stores in the Shanghai region, and when it comes to deals on groceries, they definitely have you covered.

It’s called HotMaxx, and there are ten locations in greater Beijing, and luckily a few of them are settled into the central parts of the city, including Galaxy Soho, Wangjing Soho, and a small convenience-store version in Sanlitun Soho. To see what all the fuss is about, we went to check out the Chaowai Soho for ourselves.

The concept is simple enough the brand is built on the idea that for many Beijingers, grocery bills can take up a large chunk of their household expenses. When shopping for necessities like rice, water and bread, many consumers simply feel they are running out of coupons for discounts.

The solution that HotMaxx has offered takes aim at the fact that a large portion of foods are lost or dumped annually in China. According to a report by the South China Morning Post, about 18 billion kilograms of food is wasted every year in China’s urban catering industry. To counter this, HottMaxx specializes in selling near-expired items at a super discounted price is on a mission to solve those problems.

For example, on our visit, we peeped deals like a bottle of Hoopos sparkling pear cider for only RMB 6.5 (US$1) and a bag of Indocafe Coffee mix for RMB 13.1 (US$2)! A bag of multi-flavored peanuts costs as low as RMB 2.9 (US$0.45).

If you are someone who likes a fine twist of wine flavor to your beef bourguignon, you’ve definitely come to the right place. The store offers a wide selection of different kinds of dry red wine at great discounts. The luxurious Chateau Bordeaux wine costs a mere 33.8 RMB (US$5.2), while the already dirt-cheap Yellow Tail Merlot has been further discounted down to 15.5 RMB (US$2.4), about one-fourth of its original price. That’s all pretty amazing when you consider that wine doesn’t even expire!

Even for those lazy souls who don’t want to deal with the hassle of cooking, the store provides instant snacks such as 螺蛳粉 Luósī fěn snail noodles, dry noodles, ready-to-eat stir-fry at affordable prices. These snacks are all great late-night pick-ups for people on their way home from work.

Oh, and don’t forget about those classic chips that might bring back your childhood memories. What’s better than chewing on one of your favorite Pringle’s tomato-flavor potato chips that you nabbed for just RMB 7.8 (US$1.2)?

While the store has already attracted devoted fans who get overly excited by the thrill of the hunt for the best deal, many shoppers have health concerns about the expiration dates, worrying if it is safe to eat those near-expired foods.

For that, upon checking out, the sales clerk double-checks the expiration date of the products, making sure that customers are not purchasing anything that’s not fresh. In fact, most of the things the store is selling still have more than 3 months before they fully expired.

Ultimately, it is consumers’ call on what they decide on what to purchase for themselves with the expiration date serving as a mere guiding mechanism. In other words, whether or not near-expired food is worth the discount is entirely up to you! Meanwhile, happy hunting, and may you save many a penny on your next grocery outing!

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