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Online grocer welcomes ‘duopoly’ finding, calls for Government support

Grocery shopping
A woman shopping in supermarket produce department. Image: Bigstock.

The Commerce Commission’s preliminary findings in its supermarket sector probe, that New Zealand’s two largest grocery chains are “not serving consumers well”, has been welcomed by online grocery alternative Supie.

Supie founder Sarah Balle said the Commission’s findings echo the reasons why she launched the business earlier this year.

“Everything we do at Supie is centered around fairness. Fairness for consumers, fairness for suppliers, and fairness for our planet,” Balle said.

“Consumers can help to change the broken system and create a better and fairer grocery market in New Zealand. They just have to be mindful of who they are giving their hard earned money to each week.”

And, according to Balle, the government shouldn’t seek to incentivise an international discount player such as Aldi into the market to drive costs down, as ACT party leader David Seymour said.

“There are risks in bringing in a foreign competitor from a supplier perspective, as it would increase the amount of mass-produced imported products on NZ shelves [which] will directly compete with locally made products,” Balle said.

“[Rather], we need funding from the government to accelerate growth in New Zealand, to take Supie from being Auckland based, to going nationwide, providing access for all New Zealanders.”

According to the Commission’s report, New Zealand’s fringe supermarkets are unable to compete with Countdown and Foodstuffs on price or range – something which won’t change without regulatory intervention, according to Consumer NZ CEO Jon Duffy.

“We campaigned for an inquiry into the industry because our research showed there were major problems in this market that meant shoppers were paying too much,” Duffy said.

“A mandatory code governing dealings between suppliers and supermarkets would help redress the imbalance in power between suppliers and the big chains.”

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