Tauranga man's Countdown fight skyrockets

By Julia Proverbs -
Nevan Lancaster has started a "Countdown" facebook page in the wake of Australian supermarkets dropping some kiwi products.
Nevan Lancaster has started a "Countdown" facebook page in the wake of Australian supermarkets dropping some kiwi products.

Support for a Facebook page started by a Tauranga man urging shoppers to boycott Countdown supermarkets has trebled overnight.

The number of "likes" leapt from 1000 yesterday to more than 3000 after allegations by Labour's economic development spokesman, Shane Jones, that the supermarket giant is blackmailing New Zealand suppliers into paying to keep their products on its shelves.

The Facebook page "Boycott Countdown" was started by Nevan Lancaster a week ago, in response to Countdown's Australian parent company, Woolworths Ltd, dropping New Zealand suppliers from some of its own brand product lines in Australia, in favour of local suppliers.

"It just sticks in the craw a bit. I believe in free trade but it's got to be fair as well," he said.

"It's like, kick New Zealand."

Mr Lancaster wants people to stop shopping at Countdown and instead give their grocery dollar to locally-owned producers and suppliers.

"Basically if our goods are not good enough to be sold to Australians, then the company is not good enough to sell to us," Mr Lancaster said.

"Go to your local butcher, green grocer and supermarket."

The page gained momentum after Mr Jones made his claim of a "Countdown shakedown" in Parliament yesterday.

He told the House a number of New Zealand suppliers had told him that the supermarket chain was demanding payments, backdated cheques and recompense from Kiwi businesses for the losses the supermarkets suffered last year.

"And if they don't pay these cheques, they are being told no shelf space into the future. In any other sort of country that's blackmail, that's extortion," Mr Jones said.

He intends making a formal complaint to the Commerce Commission asking it to look into the matter.

Progressive Enterprises managing director Dave Chambers has denied Mr Jones' claims and said his company would fully co-operate with any inquiries from the Commerce Commission.

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