New nationally representative research from Consumer NZ has found sentiment in the supermarket industry has taken a sharp hit over the past year, with trust plummeting.
In June last year, 17% of New Zealanders said they did not trust the supermarkets. Today that has nearly doubled, jumping to 32% of the population. Of the 15 industries measured, supermarkets have seen the most significant decline in trust since June 2021.
"It's particularly concerning that consumer trust in a sector that is essential to our well-being as a nation, and is virtually impossible for consumers to do without, is seeing such a marked decline," said Jon Duffy, Consumer NZ chief executive.
“The Commerce Commission’s study into the grocery sector found the duopoly is consistently making profits in excess of what it should,” he said. “Couple that with cost-of-living challenges, and no wonder there has been an erosion of trust in the supermarket industry.”
Consumer is calling for measures to increase competition in the supermarket sector and has launched a petition to #stopthesuperprofits. The petition asks the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, David Clark, to go further than the commission’s recommendations and bring about meaningful change in the sector. To date, 74,000 New Zealanders have signed the petition, and we’re aiming for 200,000 signatures.
"The supermarkets have recently introduced measures to temporarily address high prices,” Duffy said.
“Countdown has put a temporary price freeze on 500 items over winter ‘in response to the cost of living’ and Foodstuffs has returned prices on more than 110 everyday items, to 2021 levels.
“Some of this activity will be helpful for struggling consumers, however we don’t think the supermarket giants should be applauded for their efforts. We should be asking how a lack of competition has been allowed to create this situation in the first place.”
Food prices were 6.4% higher in April 2022 compared with April 2021. Consumer’s research found that New Zealanders are preparing themselves to spend more on groceries. In June 2021; a quarter (24%) expected their groceries to increase. By April 2022, more than two in five (43%) anticipated an uptick in grocery expenditure.
Concern about the price of food has jumped significantly. Groceries went from the eighth biggest financial concern in June 2021 to third in April 2022, beaten only by rent and mortgage payments.
Consumer NZ has also noted that in the last year New Zealanders are incurring an increasing proportion of debt on essential items like groceries, fuel and bills.