Supermarket reform must be one step of many

Requiring supermarkets to allow smaller competitors to buy from their wholesale operations is a good step that needs to be backed with clear rules that guarantee fair prices right now and broader action to address skyrocketing food prices, the Green Party says.

“The Green Party has been pushing the Government to overhaul the grocery sector to put the wellbeing of communities and the environment before profits. 

“Today’s announcement is an important step towards achieving that. But rather than waiting for supermarkets to make voluntary changes, we need to be regulating now for fair access to wholesale supply. We also need a range of other measures that will  ensure everyone can access an abundance of affordable, nourishing food,” says Ricardo Menéndez March, spokesperson for commerce and consumer affairs.

“Food inflation is reaching critical levels and is hitting those on the lowest incomes hardest. Tens of thousands of people across Aotearoa are having to make sacrifices on basic essentials like putting food on the table. Meanwhile, supermarket bosses are raking in record profits. 

“We are a nation that produces enough food to feed 40 million people. Yet food prices continue to deepen inequality in Aotearoa. Perhaps most shockingly, one in five kids have said they are living in households where food runs out. Put simply, the current structure of our grocery sector is not delivering for everyday people. 

“Today’s announcement by the Government is a positive step towards ensuring more competition in the supermarket sector, which every business text book will tell you should reduce prices. 

“However, whether it does or not will come down to the rules the Government puts in place. There needs to be immediate transparency about pricing, and the Government needs to be willing to step in if it appears wholesale operations are continuing to provide excessive markups to small retailers. 

“While we’re pleased to see the Government taking action to rebalance the grocery sector, more needs to be done. We need a long-term food strategy to ensure the people who produce, distribute and consume food – rather than the demands of global markets and profit hungry corporations – are at the heart of food systems and policies. We also need new ways of providing income support to ensure every family can afford the food they need now and in the future. 

“The Green Party will keep pushing for a food system that puts people’s wellbeing, social justice, and care for the environment at its heart,” says Ricardo Menéndez March.