The Salvation Army welcomes in general the Commerce Commission’s new report into the retail grocery sector – which highlights the high cost of groceries for New Zealanders – but challenges the study’s suggestion that existing alcohol laws are an ‘impediment’.
“As a national provider of foodbanks and food assistance supporting vulnerable New Zealanders, we welcome this investigation into the grocery sector,” says Lt-Colonel Ian Hutson, the director of The Salvation Army’s Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit.
“But in all honesty, we are not surprised with many of the findings, particularly the higher grocery prices in Aotearoa compared with other countries. The challenges in this sector definitely end up impacting massively on New Zealanders who are living on ever tighter budgets.”
Lt-Colonel Hutson said the grocery sector was long overdue for changes that would create more competition and lower prices, particularly concerning the staples of daily life.
The Salvation Army’s 2021 advocacy paper, Food for Thought: Disrupting food insecurity in Aotearoa, urged disruptive innovation in the grocery sector, calling for greater competition through a national network of social enterprise supermarkets.
“Ideas like these are needed to challenge the lack of competition and innovation in this sector,” says Lt-Colonel Hutson.
The Salvation Army is also particularly concerned about the report’s statements around the country’s alcohol laws. The report describes these laws as an ‘impediment’ that limits expansion in the grocery sector and calls for them to be ‘addressed’ in any review of alcohol regulations.
“We strongly challenge these assertions by the Commerce Commission,” says Lt-Colonel Hutson.
“The Salvation Army is working with partner organisations in New Zealand to advocate for an urgent tightening and strengthening of our alcohol laws.
“As a provider of alcohol and other drugs treatment services that help vulnerable people recover from serious addictions, the last thing we need is the greater availability of alcohol served up via the grocery sector.”
For enquiries contact: The Salvation Army Territorial Media Officer, 021 945 337, email: email@example.com (The Media Officer responds to enquiries from media outlets and journalists. If you would like to donate, are in need of help, or have some other non-media-related enquiry, please call 0800 53 00 00.)