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Supermarket cuts force NZ food producers to restructure

Two of New Zealand’s biggest food producers are preparing to restructure or make staff redundant in response to Foodstuffs North Island cuts to their ranges and merchandising agreements.

McCain Foods is reported to be pulling six to eight merchandising staff out of the supermarkets but hopes to redeploy them; Sealord is expected to cut sales and merchandising workers’ jobs.

The company’s chief executive Doug Paulin broke the news of the restructuring to staff on Friday afternoon, just hours after talks ended with Foodstuffs North Island. “The sales and merchandising team are gutted, managers are sad,” he told Newsroom.

McCain spokesperson Mark Furniss said the company was pleased with its ongoing working relationship with Foodstuffs and the continued ranging of McCain products in stores across New Zealand. “This commitment, and the demand from our customers, will enable us to continue to support New Zealand growers and staff across our New Zealand manufacturing plants.”

Sealord’s full range would continue to be available in Countdown nationally and Foodstuffs South Island stores. “We will let our loyal customers know where they can continue to purchase their favourite New Zealand frozen seafood products on our website by mid-November.”

Foodstuffs North Island confirmed it would be expanding its range of Birds Eye frozen fish products, as a result of its review. The packaging said it was Alaskan pollock or New Zealand hoki, but Foodstuffs says pollock is used only if there is a shortage of hoki.

David Stewart, the general manager of merchandise for Foodstuffs North Island, said the company’s category review programme was a key part of its journey to become one of the most customer driven retailers in the world.

In total, across Pak’nSave, New World, Four Square and Gilmours, the company sold 81,812 different products – and it had introduced 9,014 new products last year.

“We know that top of mind for New Zealanders is value and convenience and we have a responsibility to buy well for Kiwis, the aim of a range review is ensure the range on offer is easy to choose from, is in stock as much as possible and represents what customers need,” he said.

“As a 100% Kiwi-owned co-operative, we proudly support local suppliers. For example, in our recent frozen food category review there were 133 successful suppliers in the frozen range review, and 93 percent of the suppliers manufacture in New Zealand, or are New Zealand-owned businesses.”

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