Commerce Commission investigating Foodstuffs, Woolworths

  • 23/01/2024

An investigation has been launched into the supermarket duopoly's pricing and promotional practices.

The Commerce Commission has opened investigations into Foodstuffs North Island, Foodstuffs South Island, and Woolworths NZ.

Foodstuffs operates New World, Pak'nsave and Foursquare, while Woolworths operates Countdown. 

"The focus of the investigations, which are in the early stages, is to consider whether certain pricing and promotional practices of the parties comply with the Fair-Trading Act," Commerce Commission's general manager of fair-trading Kirsten Mannix said.

"As these are ongoing investigations, we are unable to provide any further comment."

Under New Zealand's Fair-Trading Act, businesses can't mislead consumers with false information in advertising or about pricing.

The investigation follows Consumer NZ a long-running campaign called "Dodgy Specials". 

The watchdog's campaign asks Kiwis to send in examples of unclear or misleading pricing and promotional practices. From September to the end of June, it received over 600 complaints.

As a result, Consumer NZ lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission about potential breaches of the Fair-Trading Act at supermarkets and asked the commission to investigate the duopoly. 

A spokesperson for Woolworths NZ said the Commerce Commission has been in contact regarding the pricing complaints it has received since September 2022. 

"We will cooperate fully, but it is not appropriate for us to comment further," the spokesperson said.

Foodstuffs also said it is aware of the investigation and will co-operate fully. 

"We take pricing and promotion accuracy and integrity very seriously every day," a  Foodstuffs spokesperson said.

"We've made ongoing improvements to our pricing and promotional processes across our Co-ops and have also been implementing the Commerce Commission’s final recommendations following their market study into the supermarket industry, regularly publicly reporting on our progress."