Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Fresh food bites: How NZers' grocery habits are changing

People want more choice and go shopping more often: supermarket boss.

We're eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, visiting supermarkets more often, spending more and seeking more self-service checkouts, says supermarket boss Murray Jordan.

Jordan, managing director of the country's biggest supermarket chain, Foodstuffs, which owns Pak'nSave, New World, Four Square and many other brands, said those were some of the strongest emerging trends as consumers change eating and shopping habits.

"People are eating more fresh produce - fish, seafood, butchery, bakery, fruit and vegetables. We're got double-digit growth in those areas," he said.

"Food habits are changing and people are shopping more often - two to three times a week rather than weekly - so we've got to cater to that with smaller trolleys at Pak'nSaves, cut-through aisles for customers to go into and out of stores faster, more self-service checkouts which will be increased to get more people through faster."

Pak'nSave owners are entering the annual NBR Rich List as their stores spin record profits.

Foodstuffs is the country's biggest employer, with more than 30,000 staff and 22,000 in the Foodstuffs North Island co-operative.

Jordan, who is leaving next year to take on professional board appointments, said supermarkets were often an area's biggest single employer and the co-op had a big expansion drive under way.

"We'll spend $100 million in six months on the new Pak'nSave Westgate, New Worlds at Howick and Browns Bay and the big Four Square Coromandel," he said.

"We're growing very strongly. Coming out of the recession, New World has grown another leg.

"Customers who are looking for more range are really supporting that hugely, looking for more fresh produce - seafood and fruit and vegetables. We're got our own butchers in New World in the shop and they can do any cut you want."

New World celebrates 50 years this year and its Little Shop promotion has gained national attention.

Jordan said New World Metro in Auckland's CBD at 125 Queen St enjoyed 25,000 customers a week "so an opportunity to expand that store would be good. We've now got a new owner and we always knew it's great for offices", he said of the tower above, largely empty for years but sold this year and now in line for an upgrade and new tenants.

The streets outside that basement store had one of the country's highest pedestrian counts, Jordan said.

He also revealed that Foodstuffs had an aggressive strategy to open a string of New World Metro outlets which have around half the floorspace of a full New World.

Those could be peppered across densely populated areas where the co-op doesn't already have a presence and where land is expensive and limited.

"There's further opportunities right throughout Auckland for accessible New World Metros or full New Worlds," Jordan said. "As we move to two million [Auckland] population, you can expect to see more New Worlds with a smaller footprint."

- NZ Herald

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