Store bom­barded with abuse on price of veges

PM’s office calls to check on cauli prices in Gonville

Whanganui Chronicle - - Front Page - Lo­gan Tutty

AWhanganui su­per­mar­ket has been bom­barded by threat­en­ing mes­sages due to the price of one of its veg­eta­bles — even at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from the Department of the Prime Min­is­ter and Cabi­net.

There were enough com­plaints about Su­per­Value Gonville’s price of cauliflow­ers that the store re­ceived a call from the Min­istry of Com­merce and Con­sumer Af­fairs.

Owner Sa­gar Pa­tel couldn’t be­lieve he was called at such a time.

“I’m sur­prised that a Su­per­Value in Whanganui in Gonville has reached the Prime Min­is­ter’s office in the mid­dle of a lock­down in the mid­dle of a pan­demic that’s af­fect­ing the whole world.”

Pa­tel said they were check­ing to make sure no price goug­ing was go­ing on to cap­i­talise on the lock­down.

That logic seems flawed to Pa­tel, who said they would have upped the price of bread or some­thing more es­sen­tial if they were look­ing to make a profit.

“Our sales for cau­li­flower rep­re­sents less than 0.01 per cent of our weekly turnover. Why would we try to price gouge on an item that is so in­signif­i­cant to our busi­ness?”

Pa­tel didn’t un­der­stand why his store was re­ceiv­ing so much hate when the price of the prod­uct is set by the sup­pli­ers.

Cau­li­flower prices have con­tin­ued to in­crease over the past week. This time last week, Su­per­Value had cauliflow­ers for $6.99. To­day they sit at $12.99 with more in­creases likely.

Pa­tel said this re­flects the price sup­pli­ers give to them and other stores ba­si­cally have the same price, and they have the same prices as their par­ent or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Pak’nSave had cauliflow­ers for $12 ear­lier in the week, but has since dropped them to $10.

Pa­tel was sur­prised how many peo­ple were seem­ingly af­fected by the price in­crease, and that noth­ing had been said about the 99 per cent of prod­uct prices that haven’t changed. “Cab­bages are all the same price. Bananas, ap­ples haven’t changed, toma­toes, av­o­ca­dos, pineap­ples, noth­ing has changed.”

Su­per­Value has even dropped some of its prices, in­clud­ing 2 litre milk and 2kg bags of Royal Gala ap­ples.

Pa­tel said only two prod­ucts in their range have gone up in price — cau­li­flower and gar­lic.

“New Zealand gar­lic is at $39.99 per kilo. Last week it was $26.99.”

With peo­ple on lock­down and more time on their hands, Pa­tel feels peo­ple are jump­ing on the band­wagon. “My the­ory is it is a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion, it’s some­thing that has im­pacted a lot of peo­ple’s lives and a lot of peo­ple have un­cer­tain fu­tures, and now they have time at home.”

The store has had more turnover in the last three days than a full busy week and the abuse the staff re­ceived has been “sim­ply un­fair”.

“My team is lit­er­ally putting their bod­ies at risk ev­ery day. The team is go­ing through enough al­ready. We are work­ing 13-14 hour days.”

Su­per­Value Gonville is look­ing to take on ca­sual staff to help ease the work­load, but Pa­tel said it may be dif­fi­cult to get through the pro­cesses with the lock­down.

Pa­tel said the store has cau­li­flower halves for $5.99 and was hop­ing to sell them all. “I’m a bit over all this cau­li­flower talk if I’m hon­est.”

Photo / Be­van Con­ley

Su­per­Value Gonville re­ceived a call from the Prime Min­is­ter’s office due to a num­ber of com­plaints.

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