Does Countdown's essential item price freeze stack up?

On Monday Countdown announced it would freeze the prices of over 500 essential items in a bid to ease the blow of the cost of living crisis. But is it just a marketing ploy?

Former Countdown worker and writer Jacob Flanagan weighed in on the move and he believes it's all about profit.

"In a market where there is not much competition and there is not much compassion from supermarkets, it's really hard to see a reason why they're doing this for any reason other than increasing profits," he told The Project.

There's no fresh fruit on the list and the only veggies are pumpkin, onion and carrots, which usually drop in price over winter - meaning they may be stuck at the higher May prices now.

"That means the price match can be higher for veggies in those winter months than they would be otherwise, remember with a price freeze they can never go up or down in price," Flanagan said.

A fifth of the items are herbs and spices - hardly belly-fillers. And real essentials like milk, pasta, cooking oil and toilet paper don't feature.

But a total of 37 dessert items do, as well as 29 different snacks and lollies. And 19 'essential' wines.

Smoked salmon has also been chucked on the list of the essential items which Flanagan believes is a stretch.

"I believe an Ocean Value pack which was 100 grams for $9. At a price of $90 per kg, that's one of the most expensive items in the whole supermarket, so calling that an essential is a bit of stretch."

Consumer NZ launched a petition this week to fight high food prices, saying our supermarkets are making around $1 million a day in excess profits. Its CEO Jon Duffy thinks now is the time for the Government to step in.

"They could build a regime that would force supermarkets to open up their wholesale to competitors or the Government could enter itself, and build a Government state-sponsored wholesaler."

Duffy added unless there is intervention Aotearoa's supermarket market won't change.