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Friday 03 December 2021

Grocery market review process “incredibly corrosive” – FSSI CEO Steven Anderson

21st October 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | | @foodtickernz

Foodstuffs South Island chief executive Steven Anderson opened today’s first session of the Commerce Commission’s grocery market review conference by labelling the process “incredibly corrosive”.

FSSI’s chief executive of 21 years, Steven Anderson

Giving a short prepared statement on behalf of the South Island division of the co-operative, Anderson said that he valued the positive relationship his group had with suppliers, but following the review many would have to be rebuilt.

He said having spent five years as general manager of sales for Mainland – now part of Fonterra – followed by 21 years as FSSI’s chief executive ahead of his retirement next February, he had an almost unique view of the industry, and had experience on “both sides of the ledger”.

“I have a visibility across the industry in terms of time and roles that few have. I value and have enjoyed the relationships between suppliers and retailers from both sides of the ledger,” Anderson said.

“This market study process has been incredibly corrosive in my view, and a large number of relationships have been significantly damaged between all parties.

“I am very sad about that. Hopefully at the end of this process will be able to rebuild those relationships.”

He added that there were, however, “a few undeniable facts that whatever we do we need to take into account”.

“Retailers do not have elastic shelves but we need to respect our suppliers and work with them in good faith. Suppliers, and remember I was one, tend to believe all their products are winners, yet most of the new products provided to us ultimately fail.

“Why is that? Because customers ultimately don’t want them. While there will always be tensions around these dynamics, which is a good thing, my hope is that all parties retailers suppliers and the commission will really listen to each other and listen to the ultimate payer of the bills – the consumers.”

The Commerce Commission today started a series of virtual conferences as part of its market study of the retail grocery sector, which runs for the best part of two weeks.

Today’s session addresses the nature of competition in the retail grocery sector.



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