The government called for tackling food retail

The government has been urged to tackle food retail in a bid to tackle the cost of living crisis.

In February, Stats NZ said food prices had risen 6.8% for the year, the biggest annual increase in a decade.

NZME chief executive Fran O’Sullivan told Q+A that the supermarket sector is also driving up costs, alongside other inflationary effects such as energy costs and supply chain bottlenecks.

“I think we need to see more pressure from the Trade Commission to make sure we get more competition, especially in the supermarkets, but not only there,” O’Sullivan said.

“This is a nation full of duopolies and in some cases monopolies and that needs to be blown up quite openly.”

The Trade Commission recently published a market study on the supermarket sector, but the government has not yet responded with major new legislation.

Emmaline Pickering-Martin, an academic and community worker, said that for families on a tight budget, food is often “the first thing that has to go”.

“We have a lot of whānau who are not eating, not eating appropriately, and accessing food banks and things like that, so it’s very worrying for us.”

Pickering-Martin called for the increased use of food co-ops as an alternative to supermarkets, noting a co-op in South Auckland that offers “a big box of fruit and veg for $15 a week”.

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