Grocery alternative Supie chalks up first year with tax break for customers

by | Jun 9, 2022 | News

Supie, the new kid on the grocery block has just turned one, and is marking the occasion by giving customers 15 percent off all fresh produce for the month of June. The difference at the checkout will be returned to members accounts for customers to spend as Supie cash for their next shop.
In the notoriously cut-throat supermarket business, Supie has earned plaudits over the past year for the company’s aspirational vision and alternative online, membership-based business model.
Aims include greater transparency by cutting out the middle players, keeping costs down on healthy food and allowing better access to Kiwi consumers for small local producers and conscious-consumer brands.  All worthy goals — but devilishly difficult to achieve given the current supermarket duopoly, giving the two big incumbents the upper hand.
Supie founder Sarah Balle says customers often compare Supie prices to those of the major retailers and despite only being in business for 12 months, with minimal buying power, Supie does offer a similar price to the duopoly. Balle says it’s striking how often Supie is able to offer similar prices to the big players, when they are such new entrant. The two supermarkets currently have a 90% share of New Zealand’s main food-shopping market, and a recent Commerce Commission study found that supermarkets earn $1 million a day in excess profits, coming straight from the pockets of Kiwi consumers.

Last week consumer affairs minister David Clark announced that a new dedicated regulator will provide annual reviews on competition in the industry and the supermarkets will be obliged to follow a mandatory code of conduct. Also promised: unit pricing is to become compulsory and loyalty schemes to be more transparent.

When introduced, compulsory unit pricing will make comparisons easier between products. Both Woolworths and Foodstuffs have claimed they support making unit pricing standard, but have failed to include it consistently i on their signage. This can lead to customers spending more for less food – for instance, while blocks of butter are usually 500g in size, blocks of only 400g are often sold right next to them and look almost identical. A busy shopper could easily buy a 400g block for slightly less than a 500g one, thinking they were getting a bargain, only to end up paying more per gram. Compulsory unit pricing as in Australia, the EU, and several US states, would help prevent this.

Balle applauds the government for continuing the conversation in response to the Commerce Commission report, however believes the action taken is not going to help consumers’ pockets today. Balle and others are calling for major reform to ensure Kiwi consumers truly have an alternative in New Zealand outside of the duopoly.

meanwhile, despite the challenges, Supie has gone from strength to strength during its first 12 months of trading delivering tens of thousands of orders and more than half a million units. “To mark our first birthday we really want to thank our customers for their loyalty. We want to thank them for their support by offering no GST on produce as part of our a mission to make the food industry fairer”, says Balle. 

Memberships continue to rise with them recently hitting over 23,000, and the product range continues to grow, with 6,000 items now available- including recently added beer, wines and spirits. Supie’s no waste model has also saved over 12.5 tonnes of food from landfill during the first year of trading.

“Becoming a new player in the grocery industry is no easy feat, but with lots of hard work, determination and a little kiwi ingenuity, we’re incredibly proud of how far we’ve come, and look forward to continuing to bring a fairer, more transparent way to shop for groceries”, says Sarah. 

For more on this topic:

The Wrap: Supermarket duopoly battle is reheated a little



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