In its next step to secure better terms for shoppers, the Government will establish a Grocery Commissioner to hold the sector accountable and increase competition, the Minister for Trade and Consumer Affairs, Dr David Clark, announced today .
The new industry watchdog will be based on the Commerce Commission and will help keep pressure on the grocery sector, providing annual reviews of the state of competition.
“Global factors continue to drive up the cost of living around the world and high grocery prices are making it difficult for New Zealanders at the moment, which is why the government has taken a series of measures to immediately relieve the pressure while tackling the underlying problem in the supermarket sector which lacks competition,” said David Clark.
“The Grocery Commissioner will be an industry arbiter, keeping the supermarket duopoly honest and speaking out where he suspects there is a problem.
“They will closely monitor how government reforms for the sector are implemented and ensure Kiwis get a fair deal at the checkout.
“By placing this role within the Commerce Commission, he will have access to a wealth of information on economic regulation and competition, fair trade, consumer protection and the grocery industry itself.
“Legislation establishing the role is expected to be introduced later this year and the first commissioner will be appointed after the bill is passed.
“This is the latest in a series of measures the government is taking to deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders at checkout, and follows the passage of legislation last week that prohibits large supermarkets to block their competitors’ access to the land to create new stores.
“I am also releasing today for consultation a mandatory code of conduct between major food retailers and their suppliers. The purpose of this code is to ensure that suppliers get a fair deal.
“Historically, there has been an imbalance in the bargaining power of large food retailers over their suppliers.
“The Grocery Code of Conduct will address this issue by preventing major retailers from using their power to pass costs and risk onto these suppliers. It will ensure that this relationship is conducted fairly.
“This is particularly important for small craft brands and emerging start-ups that want to put their products on the shelves. We want them to feel empowered and we also want consumers to have more variety when they go to the supermarket. said David Clark.
The draft Code of Conduct consultation document was developed with input from an advisory group comprised of representatives from major grocery retailers and supplier and consumer groups. This is available on the MBIE website and will be open for comment for five weeks.
Other actions and reforms as part of the government’s response to the retail grocery market review are also advancing at a steady pace. Updates will continue to be provided as this work progresses.
(With contributions from the New Zealand government press release)