First Grocery Commissioner appointed to hold sector to account

Commerce and Consumer Affairs

Pierre van Heerden has been appointed as the first Grocery Commissioner, in the latest move to improve competition in the sector, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Duncan Webb announced today.

“Pierre van Heerden is an experienced Chief Executive and board member, with deep knowledge of the grocery industry in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom,” Duncan Webb said.

“Pierre will join the Commerce Commission’s Board and head this new function as the regulator of New Zealand’s grocery industry.

“The Commerce Commission found that New Zealand supermarkets earn $1 million a day in excess profits because of a lack of competition.

“As the global cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on families, his appointment is a significant one to hold the sector to account.

“It’s the latest step the Government has taken to boost competition in the sector, including:

  • Requiring major grocery retailers to open wholesale offerings so other grocery retailers have direct access to a range of wholesale groceries at competitive prices
  • A Grocery Supply Code to address the imbalance in power between retailers and suppliers (consultation closed on 5 July)
  • Banning restrictive land agreements that locked new entrants out the best locations for new supermarkets
  • Establishing a dispute resolution scheme for suppliers and wholesale customers of the major grocery retailers
  • Unit pricing, so people know what they’re paying for

“Pierre brings more than 25 years’ experience in the grocery sector, having held roles such as Chair of the Food and Grocery Council of New Zealand and has been recognised as an advocate for consumer value and transparency.

“This will be essential in his role addressing the nature of competition in the grocery sector and the improvements we want to see over time.

“An important focus of the Grocery Commissioner will be in levelling the playing field and ensuring increased competition in the grocery industry, and for the benefit of Kiwi consumers.”

Pierre van Heerden has been appointed for a five-year term and starts his role on 13 July 2023.