ELE­PHANT IN THE KITCHEN

New Zealand Listener - - LETTERS -

De­spite con­cern about ris­ing petrol prices ( Pol­i­tics, Oc­to­ber 20), the ele­phant isn’t in the garage, but in the kitchen. We have choices about car use, such as opt­ing for ef­fi­cient mod­els or catch­ing the bus.

It’s harder to save on sky­rock­et­ing gro­cery prices, de­spite sup­pli­ers’ ef­forts to dis­guise that fact by, for ex­am­ple, repack­ag­ing items in smaller quan­ti­ties. In­fla­tion has been low, so why do gro­cery prices keep ris­ing?

In cen­tral Europe, from where I’ve re­turned af­ter a lengthy stay, dairy prod­ucts sell for a frac­tion of New Zealand prices. Fresh pro­duce, sim­i­larly, is in­ex­pen­sive. A bas­ket of gro­ceries was no­tice­ably cheaper than here. The ben­e­fits of competiton from such su­per­mar­ket chains as Lidl, Aldi and Edeka come in the form of mod­er­ate – and sta­ble – gro­cery prices.

What we do seem to have here is far more prod­uct choice, but at a cost – of or­der­ing, trans­port­ing, stor­ing, stock­ing and han­dling. Where we need choice is of sup­pli­ers, in­stead of the cosy oli­gop­oly of ef­fec­tively only two ma­jor su­per­mar­ket groups.

Bar­bara Cal­laghan (Ko­hi­marama, Auck­land)

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