Sapporo store says sorry with meat


A Seiyu supermarket in Higashi Ward on Friday launched a three-day sale on meat to apologize for a scandal in which it falsely sold imported meat as more expensive domestic.

The Motomachi outlet opened its doors at 9 a.m., and was immediately flooded with customers heading for its meat and poultry section. The prices of all beef, pork and chicken were slashed by 50 percent.

Staff continually brought out cuts of meat, but these were quickly carried off by customers who did not even wait for the products to be put on shelves. By 11 a.m., a line about 30 meters long had formed at the meat section.

A 35-year-old woman criticized the store’s handling of the crowd.

“I couldn’t get any beef, which is what I wanted,” she said, “and instead had to settle for some pork tenderloin that another customer had put back on the shelf.”

In late September, Seiyu Ltd. disclosed that the Sapporo outlet and a store in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, had falsely labeled meat to increase sales, as domestic meat is more expensive than imported varieties.

Store manager Hidehiko Ikushima said the sale was an effort to regain the trust of customers.

“We are selling the meat below its cost of production,” he said. “I hope it will serve as an apology for the trouble we caused.”

The store made headlines in early October after hundreds of people flooded the outlet to take advantage of the announcement that it would refund customers for the falsely labeled meat sold between September 2001 and this September, even if they did not have receipts.

Police were called in to restore order after minor scuffles ensued between store staff and the crowds.