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Commerce Commission must seek bust up of supermarket duopoly Tukaki

The Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has said the publication of the Commerce Commission’s recommendations and findings into the Food and Grocery industry should be a marker for the breaking up of the duopoly of Countdown and Foodstuffs. Tukaki, who steered much of the Maori korero into the Commissions Inquiry has said that anything less would allow the two large supermarket chains to continue to get away with anti-market behaviour at a time that the cost of living for all New Zealanders was going through the roof. The New Zealand Commerce Commission is due to announce some of its findings on Tuesday.

“The way the two supermarket chains have behaved is tantamount to anti competitive behaviour from the way goods are priced right through to how they control marketing and advertising spend, they maintain a stranglehold on the transport and logistics network right through to how producers and suppliers are treated. To be frank it was pure stupidity to allow it to get tot his point by only having two main market operators and my expectation is that the Commerce Commission will correct that” Tukaki said

“That might include the sale by the larger operators of some brands such as Fresh Choice and Four Square while also breaking up their ongoing control of warehousing and logistics. All of that should clear the decks for a new third market entrant to emerge such as happened with the entry of Aldi into the Australian market – and of course if that happens the I would encourage Maori and Iwi to play a leader ownership role” Tukaki said

“The Maori economy is estimated to be worth between $50-60 billion dollars. According to data published by the 1Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Māori own a significant proportion of assets in the primary sectors: 50% of the fishing quota, 40% of forestry, 30% in lamb production, 30% in sheep and beef production, 10% in dairy production and 10% in kiwifruit production. By default, one would reasonably deduce that Maori therefore have a significant stake in what happens when it comes to competition policy and the grocery industry and growers and producers of the goods, manufacturers of the product. From the farm gate, so to speak, right through to the distribution of the goods to market. For the domestic market this is true of products that end up supermarket shelves from beef and lamb through to dairy and fresh vegetables.” Tukaki said

“Tuesday will be an opportunity to address one of the underlying issues when it comes to the cost of living and that is the pathway to a third operator. And to be frank even during the process of engagement the two large supermarket operators havn’t exactly covered themselves in glory – for example, blaming things on COVID19 and Volcanos only holds for so long” Tukaki said

“The Commerce Commission I expect will be bold and brave and do the job we expect them to do with their findings.” Tukaki said

“Competition is coming whether the Australian operators of Countdown are ready or not or the stick figures over at Pak N Save counting their beans.” Tukaki said


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