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ComCom seeking supplier, consumer information to help guide grocery probe

The next phase of the Commerce Commission’s probe into the supermarket sector is underway, with suppliers and consumers being asked to take part in online surveys to inform the direction of the study.

Suppliers have the capacity to complete the online survey anonymously, or to discuss the confidentiality of certain financial information with the Commission on first contract.

“Suppliers, such as farmers, growers, manufacturers and processors of grocery products, play a critical role in the New Zealand grocery sector,” Commission chair Anna Rawlings said.

“We want to hear about suppliers’ trading relationships and bargaining power with retailers and wholesalers and any specific behaviour or conduct which may be positively or negatively affecting their businesses.”

Consumers’ surveys, on the other hand, will be used to identify relevant themes and buying behaviour.

The surveys are due to be completed by 25 March, 2021, while the Commission’s draft report will be released for consultation in mid-2021, to be finalised by 23 November.

The probe hopes to focus on the structure of the supermarket industry, analysing the nature of competition in the sector from both a wholesale and retail perspective, the impact of private-label brands and how they impact the supermarket – supplier relationship, as well as pricing and procurement practices.

Finally, the probe will investigate whether these factors tie together to create a fair offering for customers, and whether the pandemic has created changes in the sector that could impact competition in the long term.

“The purpose of our market study is to look at whether competition is working well for consumers, and if not, what can be done to improve it,” Rawlings said in December, when announcing the proposed scope of the probe.

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