#stopthesuperprofits: Consumer NZ launches petition to fight high food prices

Consumer New Zealand has launched a petition calling for the Government to regulate access to wholesale supply to help bring down massive supermarket profits. 

It comes after a Commerce Commission report recommended major changes and found the grocery sector is "not working well for New Zealand consumers". 

The petition is calling for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark to "act now to create more competition, make profits fair and lower grocery prices for New Zealanders". 

Consumer NZ head of communications and campaigns Gemma Rasmussen told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green New Zealanders pay around $1000 a year extra for their groceries because of excessive supermarket profits. 

"In New Zealand, we have a duopoly. There is not a lot of competition. The supermarkets are making around $1 million excess profits each day which equates to about $1000 extra for a person each year on top of their grocery bill," Rasmussen said on Tuesday. 

She said Consumer NZ believes the Commerce Commission's recommendations didn't go far enough. Instead, it wants to see better access to wholesale supply. 

"What we consider the key to opening up competition in New Zealand is access to wholesale. Whether you're wanting to open a few supermarkets in Auckland, a dairy, or you want to be a new big entrant supermarket player, you need to be able to guarantee the supply of food and right now the duopoly are the ones that control that."

Rasmussen said if enough people sign the petition, Clark will have no choice but to listen. 

"I think there is power in numbers and if hundreds of thousands of people say, 'Look we are not happy with the current situation at the supermarkets, there's not enough competition, we are paying too much money'. I think he is [Clark] going to need to sit up and take attention to what New Zealanders are saying. We absolutely think this could result in positive change."

She said while international factors do play a role in food prices, Kiwis are paying more so the supermarkets can make huge profits. 

"To have those profits on top of the high prices we are already paying is a bit of a slap in the face."

When the Commerce Commission report was released Clark said the Government would "immediately progress work to address" the recommendations. 

The commission's recommendations include: 

  • "Making more land available for new grocery stores, by changing planning laws to free up sites, banning the use of restrictive land covenants and exclusivity clauses in leases that prevent retail grocery stores from being developed, and monitoring land banking by the major grocery retailers
  • "Improving access to the wholesale supply of a wide range of groceries at competitive prices, by regulating to require the major grocery retailers to fairly consider any requests they receive to supply competitors, and requiring the criteria for obtaining supply and terms and conditions of supply to be transparent
  • "Monitoring strategic conduct by the major grocery retailers, such as the use of ‘best price’ clauses and exclusive supply agreements."