New Zealand is caught in a tailspin of rising food prices until the supermarket duopoly is broken up to stop excessive profits dictating who can afford healthy food Health Coalition Aotearoa says.
The statement comes after Statistics NZ released data showing healthy fruit and vegetables increased in price by 18 per cent in March 2022, the highest increase in a decade.
“We cannot rely on the current market to provide us with healthy food as this latest spike in prices clearly shows,” Co Chair of HCA’s Food Policy Expert Group Dr Lisa Te Morenga says.
“The Government intervened when the price of fuel reached $3 a litre with a swift reaction to slash tax but with food, we’ve had a lengthy Commerce Commission review suggesting practical, and sensible ways to reduce prices – yet the duopoly remains intact.
“We’re in a tailspin of higher and higher prices that benefit supermarket profit margins while locking people out of nutrition.”
Te Morenga says the problem will only worsen unless urgent action is taken.
“Policy measures Ministers could take right now include breaking up our supermarket duopoly, as originally flagged by the Commerce Commission, and creating a national nutrition and food sovereignty strategy, instead of leaving our food supply to chance and market forces.”
“These continued reports on high prices of fruit, vegetables and milk should be all the evidence Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark needs.
“The reality is many whānau are either living in material poverty or right on the edge of it.
“Twenty percent of Māori children, nearly double the rate of the whole population, are currently living in circumstances of material hardship which means they often go without the sort of healthy food they need to meet their full potential.
“To meet its goal of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty and to honour obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi to protect wellbeing for all citizens, the Government must urgently address skyrocketing food costs.
“Food makes massive contributions to health and well-being in society yet, for many, due to high prices they are left with scraps.
“We’re better than this.”