Consumer NZ welcomes appointment of Grocer Commissioner

by | Jul 13, 2023 | News

Pierre van Heerden has been named New Zealand’s first Grocery Commissioner. In a  statement released on Tuesday, Consumer NZ, a long time critic of the supermarket duopoly’s practices, has welcomed the appointment.

“This is an important step in the lengthy process required to introduce fairness, improved transparency and, ultimately, improved competition into our grocery sector” said Jon Duffy Consumer CEO.

The Commerce Commission previously calculated the supermarket duopoly was making $1 million in excess profits a day. Since that analysis was completed, the cost of food has continued to put pressure on New Zealand households and, according to Consumer, remains a major concern for many New Zealanders.

“Over the past year and a half we’ve watched sentiment towards the cost of groceries significantly change, rocketing up the list of household financial concerns. It’s imperative we have a grocery sector that is fair and transparent,” said Duffy.

“Now Pierre van Heerden has been appointed as Grocery Commissioner, the Commission can get on with updating its data on supermarket profitability. This should include an analysis of the margins supermarkets have been able to achieve through this period of high inflation and cost of living pressure.”

Over the past nine months, Consumer has been collecting examples of misleading pricing and “dodgy” supermarket specials from eagle-eyed shoppers.

“In June alone we received well over 100 complaints about misleading pricing at supermarkets across Aotearoa.

“We will be collating this evidence and sharing it with the Commerce Commission’s Fair Trading team in the coming weeks. It is very concerning to us that even as New Zealand households struggle with the cost of filling their trolleys, the supermarkets do not appear to have lifted their game and improved their pricing practices.

“We are hopeful that the increased scrutiny the Grocery Commissioner will bring to the sector will force the supermarkets to improve their systems and marketing practices, so they at least meet the minimum legal requirements of the Fair Trading Act.“

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