Māori involvement in a third supermarket group would benefit all New Zealanders by ensuring a break-up of the current duopoly did lower food prices, says Matthew Tukaki, the chairman of the National Māori Authority, Nga Ngaru Rautahi o Aotearoa.
Tukaki said the Commerce Commission, due to complete a market study of the grocery industry this March, should “absolutely” consider recommending the forced sale of Foodstuffs and Countdown’s Four Square and Fresh Choice stores as an option to help make way for a third player.
“Four Square stores are dominant players in regional and rural communities with high Māori populations, so that could be one way of dealing with it,” Tukaki said.
“It has got to be an option among many things that need to happen.”
Several iwi are understood to be interested in funding a venture called Northelia, supported by 2degrees founder Tex Edwards who has advocated for an alternative downsizing of Countdown and Foodstuffs extending from larger cities.
Tukaki said that the entry of a third player into the market was paramount but the National Māori Authority would “of course advocate for a Māori-owned and operated supermarket chain”.
The advantage to non-Māori of iwi involvement in the industry would “come down to the prices that consumers pay at the supermarket shelf,” Tukaki said.
“The third operator, if it is Māori-owned and operated, then rest assured we’re going to see fairer prices – that has to be the message.”
Māori businesses were already major players in the food industry, accounting for half of the country’s fishing quota, 30 per cent of lamb and beef production, and 10 per cent of dairy and kiwifruit production, Nga Ngaru said in its submission, quoting Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures.
Involvement in retailing would be a natural progression, Tukaki said.
Original story sourced from stuff.co.nz.