Government urged to tackle food retail industry

The government has been urged to tackle the food retail sector to bring the cost of living crisis under control.

In February, Stats NZ revealed food prices rose 6.8% for the year, the biggest annual rise in a decade.

NZME business leader Fran O’Sullivan told Q+A that in addition to other inflationary impacts such as energy costs and supply chain issues, the supermarket sector is making also increase costs.

“I think we need to see more pressure from the Commerce Commission to make sure we have more competition, especially in supermarkets, but not just there,” O’Sullivan said.

“It’s a nation full of duopolies, and in some cases monopolies, and that needs to be broken very frankly.”

The commercial committee recently published a market study on the supermarket sector, but the government has yet to respond with major new legislation.

Emmaline Pickering-Martin, an academic and community worker, said food is often “the first thing to go” for families on tight budgets.

“We have a lot of whānau who are not eating, not eating properly and accessing food banks and such, so that is very concerning for us.”

Pickering-Martin has called for increased use of food co-ops as an alternative to supermarkets, noting a south Auckland co-op that provides “a big box of fruit and veg for $15 a week”.

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