Parliament to debate supermarket referee to give suppliers a fair go

Parliament will today have the opportunity to support the establishment of a supermarket adjudicator tasked with developing a code of conduct to level the playing field between big supermarkets and local produce suppliers, following problems exposed by the 2014 Countdown investigation.

Green Party MP Mojo Mathers’ Commerce (Supermarket Adjudicator and Code of Conduct) Amendment Bill will be given its first reading this evening, followed by a vote.

“Today Parliament will have the opportunity to support local produce suppliers to get a fair deal from the two big companies who control over 90 percent of our supermarkets,” Green Party commerce and consumer affairs spokesperson Mojo Mathers said.

“I hope that the Bill will pass its first reading today because it’s a sensible and pragmatic solution that builds on the lessons learnt in the UK and Australian supermarket industries and adapts them for New Zealand.

“The Countdown investigation in 2014 showed that many local food producers weren’t getting a fair deal from the supermarkets, but the system wasn’t strong enough to fix the problem.

“Currently, local food producers can be forced into accepting low prices from the supermarkets, who can then on-sell the local food with huge margins and make massive profits. People pay more for food but the local companies who make the food don’t get the benefit.

“We’ve heard from local food producers who say an independent adjudicator and code of conduct is a great idea, but can't speak out publicly for fear of being blacklisted by supermarkets.

“We know that lots of people would like to buy local products at their supermarket but often find that hard because supermarkets often shut smaller local suppliers out of their supply chains.

“The code of conduct could also help individual supermarkets who want to give local products greater prominence, but are forced not to by big multinational product suppliers.

“International experience shows that a mandatory code of conduct, like the one in place in the UK, works much better than the voluntary one in place in Australia which has proved difficult to implement,” Ms Mathers said.

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