Why senior minister Michael Wood thinks Westpac is wrong about Government's grocery reforms

Senior minister Michael Wood says it's "still really tough when you're filling up the trolley" but is confident the Government's grocery reforms will make a significant difference, despite a report to the contrary.

Last year, the Government announced it would be establishing a Grocery Commissioner to report on competition in the sector and identify rip-offs. That came on the back of a Commerce Commission market study that found the grocery sector "working well for New Zealand consumers", with smaller retailers unable to compete with the two major players - Foodstuffs and Countdown. 

But Westpac warned in a report released on Friday the Government's reforms were "positive steps, but not transformative". 

Westpac warned while the reforms were touted as transformational, "we don't think they will generate sufficient competition to deliver significant benefits for the consumer". 

But Wood disagreed, he told AM on Friday.

"We have legislation going through Parliament at the moment," he said. "We've done the work on a market study.

"I'm saying that I disagree with [Westpac]."

Asked by AM co-host Laura Tupou what part of Westpac's report he disagreed with, Wood said its Grocery Commissioner would "have the power to effectively open the books and get more transparency into pricing practices within supermarkets".

"What is a disagree with them [on] is the measures being put in place won't make a difference," Wood said.

He said the Government was removing the ability for grocery chains "to do the stuff they were previously doing, whereby they basically stopped other supermarkets from building next door to them".

"Those sorts of measures will make an appreciable difference."

But Wood said the Government also welcomed more suggestions.

"If there are more ideas out there, we're open to them. We're also looking at what we can do to encourage competition within the sector."

He said it was "definitely the case that the supermarket duopoly has been making this worse, and we've actually got a plan in place and legislation that is going to make a difference".

There's been no notable difference yet, however. Statistics NZ announced on Thursday food price inflation was at a 35-year high, despite general consumer prices trending down