Coronavirus: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's warning to supermarkets after accusations of price gouging

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is warning supermarkets not to take advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown after reports of price-gouging. 

Newshub has been sent multiple allegations of price-gouging - one supermarket was reportedly selling a loaf of Vogel's bread for $8, while there were also claims a New World store was selling a fresh whole chicken for $30 - usually about half that price.

Foodstuffs - which owns New World - denies it hiked the price of the chicken, however, instead saying it was a "ticketing error".

"After speaking to the store we can confirm there was an error in the pricing," a Foodstuffs spokeswoman told Newshub.

Stuff reported another store was selling one litre of hand sanitiser for $125.

"It is not acceptable to do what they call price gouging," Ardern warned on Wednesday night.

"That is not allowed so we will be keeping a very close eye on where we might see those issues." 

Asked about the issue earlier on Wednesday, Ardern said her message to supermarkets was to "be responsible". 

"I say that to everyone who continues to provide essential services," Ardern told Magic Talk's Ryan Bridge.

"This is an extraordinary time. We all have to work together to support one another - this is not a time to be thinking about profiteering, it is a time to think about one another."

The Foodstuffs spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the chicken ticketing error was rectified as soon as the store was alerted.

"It was accidentally priced per kg rather than per whole chicken, this was simply the result of human error at the store.

"Understandably, staff are under immense pressure right now and despite best intentions, an error was made."

"We apologise for the error and thank customers for their patience during this time.

"The offending chicken was not sold while labelled incorrectly."

Last week, Trade Me announced it would put a stop to the price-gouging of products such as hand sanitiser and face masks.

As the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis began to impact New Zealand, listings for items such as respirator masks and sanitiser began to creep up in price. One listing saw a half-litre bottle of sanitiser being sold for nearly $100.