'Two chains dominate the supermarket sector' - Unions back Labour's promised inquiry into food prices

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Labour's promise of an inquiry into the cost of food in New Zealand if it forms the next government is being backed by a Council of Trade Unions economist.

This year has seen the biggest hike in food priced since 2011 when GST was raised and there are calls for an inquiry into why.
Source: Q+A

TVNZ's Q+A reported that this year has seen the biggest hike in food prices since 2011 when GST was raised to 15 per cent. 

Labour withdrew it's policy during the election campaign to remove GST on basic food, and instead party leader Jacinda Ardern promised an inquiry into the cost of food.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg backs that call, saying two large chains, Progressive and Foodstuffs dominate the supermarket sector.

"We manage to ship things like milk powder and cheese and so on halfway across the world and sell it at competitive prices, and yet we have prices here which on some comparisons are higher than the rest of the developed world. Someone must be making some money," he said. 

Catherine Rich of the Food and Grocery Council says a duopoly of supermarket chains might be the perception, but it's not the reality.

She said if you look at the competition between the major supermarket brands, and if people buy on promotion, New Zealand food prices are on a par with many other countries around the world.

For a couple back in New Zealand from a stint living in Britain and then Australia, the weekly shop has become the weekly shock.

"I think we feel a little aggrieved that we produce so good quality stuff and it costs so much to live in New Zealand," Matt said.

And at a Wellington campervan park, tourist Tom Simon from Middlesbrough in England said he was surprised by the prices at a local supermarket.

"I like to eat a lot of meat back home. Steak, chicken, it's all so expensive. And the New Zealand lamb's cheaper in England than it is in New Zealand which is so strange. And bread and dairy products are really expensive. Cheese is a luxury to us now when we're travelling," he said.

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