NZ to force supermarkets to give rivals access to their wholesale units

The shift comes as New Zealanders grapple with inflation running at 7.3 per cent. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - The New Zealand government said on Wednesday (Aug 24) it plans to introduce regulations that would force the wholesale arms of supermarkets to provide competitors fair access to their products if they do not do it voluntarily.

The shift comes as New Zealanders grapple with inflation running at 7.3 per cent, its highest level in three decades and follows other government measures aimed at improving competition in the sector which is dominated by just two companies.

Foodstuffs, a New Zealand-owned retailer cooperative, and Countdown, which is part of Australia's Woolworths Group Ltd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new rules, which still have to be passed into law, require the wholesale arms of the supermarkets to sell groceries to rival retailers at competitive prices set by a regulator unless they voluntarily give access.

The government hopes this will mean that other retailers such as corner stores will be able to grow and provide products more cheaply.

"This work will improve competition and competition will improve prices," Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark told a news conference.

Other measures introduced in the last year by the government include curbs on land banking by supermarkets and the establishment of a regulator.

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