Whey Finance

No whey – cheese price chasm revealed: $4 in UK, $23 in New Zealand

Focus Live: PM Ardern and David Clark on supermarket regulatory measures. Video / NZ Herald

While Brits are watching the barrel of an 18% inflation rate, when it comes to certain types of cheese, they still have one on Kiwis.

An eagle-eyed Camembert consumer has alerted the Herald to a wheel of creamy cow’s milk cheese that costs more than five times as much in New Zealand as it does in the UK.

The cheese in question is Camembert Le Rustique, made in Normandy.

A 250g wheel costs $22.99 at New World from Saturday afternoon, or $91.96/kg.

British grocery giant Tesco offers the same 250g portion for just £2.15, or $4.06 or $16.22/kg.

The Herald sought comment from the owner of New World Foodstuffs for their views on the factors behind the price discrepancy, but a spokeswoman said they were unable to respond until Monday.

Supermarkets have found themselves in the government’s sights this year amid concerns of excess profits and a lack of competition.

This 250g block of Le Rustique Pasteurized Camembert sells for the equivalent of $4.06 in the UK, but New Zealand shoppers can expect to pay $22.99.  Photo / Provided
This 250g block of Le Rustique Pasteurized Camembert sells for the equivalent of $4.06 in the UK, but New Zealand shoppers can expect to pay $22.99. Photo / Provided

A Commerce Commission investigation, published in March, found that the two big supermarket chains, Woolworths and Foodstuffs, were using their dominant market position to impose excessive risk, cost and uncertainty on suppliers.

Last month, the Minister for Trade and Consumer Affairs, David Clark, announced how the government planned to improve competition in the grocery sector by helping small retailers and new entrants to the market to stock up and to sell a wider range of groceries at better prices.

Clark said the “existing duopoly” would be required to negotiate wholesale deals on commercial terms.

“However, if these prices are not what we expect in a competitive wholesale market, the new grocery commissioner may impose additional regulations to impose fairer prices,” he said.

“Ultimately, if these interventions fail to achieve a fair deal, new regulations can be used to compel major retailers to provide wholesale supply under certain conditions, including price and range.”

Inflation in New Zealand was 7.3% for the three months ending in June, the highest level since 1990.

The SBA and the Institute of Economic Research said they believed inflation had peaked but would remain high for the next two years.

In the UK, Citigroup expects inflation to reach levels above 18% next time around, fueled by soaring petrol prices, the Financial Times reported.