Commerce Commission launches survey investigating grocery sector's competition

Commerce Commission chairperson Anna Rawlings says it will be up to the Government to decide whether they will do anything to bring grocery prices down, following on from their year-long study into the sector. 

The commission launched new surveys on Thursday to give insight into whether competition in the grocery sector is working well and if anything needs to be done to improve it. 

"We have kicked off discussions with a number of businesses and consumer advocacy groups and industry groups," Rawlings told The AM Show. "But we have issued these surveys so that we can provide a means for suppliers and consumers to speak directly to us about their experience in the grocery sector."

The online surveys, which will be completed by suppliers of grocery stores and consumers, will ask them about why they shop at particular grocery stores and why they buy specific products.

Host Duncan Garner noted that there is an idea that New Zealand's grocery prices are much more expensive than in other countries around the world.

Rawlings said they are aware of the perception and the survey will look into how good our country's grocery competition is.

"We know that where competition works well, it delivers a good range of groceries for us, it delivers the right kind of price and the right quality and service."

When questioned if they can bring grocery prices down, Rawlings said it wasn't their job to implement the recommendations.

"Our job is to reach some conclusions about whether the competition is working well here. Then we can make some recommendations that can make it work better, if it's not as good as we expect. It will be up to Government to decide whether or not to implement those recommendations," she said.

In ordering the study, the Government asked the Commission to look at a range of things including:

  • How retailers deal with their suppliers such as manufacturers, producers, farmers and growers
  • Competition at the supplier level of the grocery market
  • Who consumers buy groceries from and who supplies those retailers
  • Competition between retailers when selling groceries to consumers
  • What retailers charge consumers for groceries and how they decide on their prices, as well as the associated levels of service, product ranges and quality of groceries.

The Commission said it will to release its draft report in mid-2021 and a final report to the Government by November 23.