Call for supermarket probe
The Green Party is calling on the Government to use a new law to investigate supermarkets after petrol companies.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to rush through a new law allowing the Commerce Commission to conduct wide-ranging market studies, by which it can compel companies to provide information.
She has said she nominates petrol companies to be the first to be investigated, but would not rule out supermarkets being next, saying there was a lot of interest in other areas around the cost of living.
Green MP Gareth Hughes said supermarkets were the perfect industry to be looked at next – or even at the same time as fuel prices were investigated.
‘‘It could perhaps run concurrently – or at least as the next cab off the rank,’’ Hughes said.
New Zealand’s supermarket space is dominated by two huge companies: Progressive Enterprises, which owns Countdown, and Foodstuffs, which owns New World, Pak ’n Save and Four Square.
‘‘The fact is when you only have two players, the competition isn’t as vigorous. ‘‘A study last year found Kiwis were paying 37 per cent more for a standard basket of food items than Australians, and I think the duopoly is part of the reason for that,’’ Hughes said.
‘‘It’s been described as cosy.
‘‘We now see allegations on land banking in the media to stifle competition.’’
In 2014, the Green Party drafted a bill that would ensure supermarkets followed a code of conduct as they do in Australia.
Hughes said the code of conduct had enabled much better competition in Australia, pointing to a 2009 change that had stopped the two main supermarket chains enjoying a monopoly in malls.