Monday, December 19, 2022

Point of Order: Govt serves good news by helping shoppers gauge whether this item – or that one – provides the better bang for our bucks

Good Christmas news for shoppers came in the form of the Government announcing it is working on a set of rules intended to help consumers compare the prices of grocery products at supermarkets.

They can do that now, of course, although the procedure is exhausting: shoppers hoping to get the best bang for their bucks can visit every supermarket within a comfortable travelling distance, then walk down the aisles with their shopping lists and take copious notes of who is selling what for how much.

Shoppers furthermore can calculate whether a 150-gram tin of sardines (or whatever) is a better deal than the 150-gram tin of sardines on the same shelf.

This is of limited benefit in communities with only one supermarket, fair to say, and it can require a great deal of calculating.

But Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark has our best interests at heart and today announced that supermarkets, and other large grocery retailers, will be required to clearly and consistently display unit pricing – such as the price of a product per kilogram or litre.

The Government is putting in place rules that will make it easier for consumers to compare the price of grocery products at the supermarket.

Mind you, this won’t happen in time to benefit shoppers this Christmas.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is expected to consult on technical details of the unit pricing standard early next year to ensure it works effectively in practice.

Under the new standard, unit pricing will be mandatory for grocery products sold in grocery stores with a floorspace above 1,000 square metres. It will also be required in online grocery stores and in some forms of advertising.

Clark referenced the Commerce Commission’s market study which found the major grocery retailers display unit pricing for many products they offer, but it is not consistently used or displayed.

“Our work on unit pricing will help shoppers to compare the prices of similar products and choose the best deal for their needs. It’s particularly helpful where products are sold in different sized packaging and by different brands.”

Then he reminded us why supermarket operators have been on his hit list for regulatory action:

“Supermarkets have been fleecing hard-working kiwis for too long – their excess profits of more than $1 million a day cannot be justified.”

The new rules will require around 90 per cent of the retail grocery market to display prominent, legible unit pricing that is easy for consumers to use. This includes major grocery retailers, along with new entrants and online retailers, if the thresholds are met.

Smaller stores, such as dairies, specialist retailers, and international supermarkets, will be excluded from the standard but can choose to comply voluntarily.

Clark said the new standard for unit pricing will also support inter-brand competition and encourage grocery retailers to compete on metrics such as price.

Meanwhile, his colleagues were…

State Highway 6 between Blenheim and Nelson reopened last night just in time for Christmas after a massive effort from Waka Kotahi and their team.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Jan Tinetti is welcoming today’s announcement from the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union that union members have voted to accept the settlement for a new collective employment agreement.

Tinetti headed her press statement “Government action solves firefighter’s dispute”.

She might have said “Government spending solves firefighter’s dispute”.

As she noted in her statement …

“The Government provided Fire and Emergency New Zealand with additional financial support so that a better offer could be put forward to firefighters. This was a turning point in the negotiations and ended over 18 months of talks and strike action.

“The $75.4 million we provided to Fire and Emergency New Zealand is a repayable capital injection loan. It meant they could provide an offer which was acceptable to firefighters, ensure the services that we all value could continue and that they got the increase to pay we know they deserve. “

An adjustment payment has been made to Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu under the relativity mechanisms in their 1995 and 1997 Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

The “adjustment” (from memory) is always in an upwards direction.

Both tribes are able to receive “relativity mechanism adjustment payments” every five years to ensure the real value of their settlements remains at 17 per cent (Waikato-Tainui) and 16.1 per cent (Ngāi Tahu) of total Treaty settlement expenditure.

Following their requests for an adjustment payment, Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu have been paid $101.5 million and $96.5 million respectively.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Ardi Barnard as New Zealand’s next Consul-General to Shanghai.

The Foreign Ministers of New Zealand, Australia, and Canada have issued the following joint statement on the execution of protestors in Iran.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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