Countdown to freeze price on 300 products, only two veges make the list

Basic food prices are freezing this coming winter.
Basic food prices are freezing this coming winter. Photo credit: Getty


Countdown is freezing prices on a revised list of basic food items again this winter.

Basics are now more expensive than what they were last year - rising by 12.5 percent compared to last April.

Last year Countdown froze prices on more than 500 products as a measure to curb the cost of living crisis, that had since, steadily worsened.

Now it was back, but had been revised to just over 300 products - including double ups like blue and green top milk - which would stay the same price they are now until the end of winter.

Countdown brand milk would stay at $5.69, a kilogram of beef mince at $16.90, and a kilo of chicken breasts for $12.90.

Just two vegetables were on the list - a pack of mushrooms remained at $4 and 4kg of potatoes at $10.

Countdown packaged goods commercial director Steve Mills said they could not control all the causes contributing to inflation, but hoped holding prices would help.

Last year's price freeze garnered criticism for not necessarily including the basics included this year, but instead plenty of herbs and more higher priced items like salmon.

Foodstuffs, who last year followed suit with a roll back on some of its essential items, was tight lipped on whether it will bring back the same scheme.

The company owns New World and Pak n Save supermarkets.

Foodstuffs spokesperson Emma Wooster said the supermarket was focusing on the things it could control.

"This includes buying well, running our stores and supply chain as efficiently as possible, and keeping costs down. We'll be keeping this focus on throughout 2023," she said.

Prices of items that were discounted last year, have since risen.

In 2022, a loaf of value bread was rolled back from $1.40 to $1.19, today in North Island stores it was at $1.49.

A 1 kg block cheese went from $11.55 to $9.99, but now it was at $11.99. And 1 kg of frozen mixed vegetables, which last year dropped from $2.59 to $2.19, today cost $3.39.

Foodstuffs referred RNZ to its Infometrics reporting which showed its prices had stayed below the national food price index for a year now.

Food price inflation was at its highest level in 36 year and the national index showed there had been a 12 percent increase in groceries in the last year.

Supermarkets still winning - Consumer NZ

Consumer NZ head of research and advocacy Gemma Rasmussen said because supermarkets put their own brands on the freezing line, they were still winning.

"In these instances the supermarket is both the supplier and the retailer, so they can retain higher profit, and it also means that increases their market power over other suppliers."

Lincoln University Agribusiness' Hamish Gow said the country's expensive grocery bill was symptomatic of the entire industry model needing change.

"Our food industry is still based around this middle, department-store, traditional supermarket with this large mixed offering - but we haven't seen the differentiation of it in New Zealand like we have elsewhere in the world," he said.

Gow said it was not something that could be changed tomorrow - but more hard discounters like Aldi could add some much-needed pressure.