Profit and loss.
They're two words that govern our lives. We live in a capitalist society; whether that's for better or worse is an opinion that will change from person to person.
Where you sit on that particular spectrum is probably influenced by how much positive or negative impact profit and loss have on your daily life.
And there's nothing wrong with that – our life experiences are what determine our inner thoughts and values. While not a 100 per cent trade-off, it is far more likely that you'll support a more capitalist-leaning system if you are benefiting from it, while those who struggle are more likely to support increased state influence on the market.
I believe it's one of the reasons why stories of young people bucking current low ownership trends and buying houses are so popular in the news these days. People more financially comfortable relate to stories of knuckling down and sacrificing, while those on struggle street cynically point out that these people almost always had a helping hand in the form of cash towards a deposit or family who lets them live rent-free.
Wherever you sit on that spectrum, I doubt you will have failed to notice how your weekly expenses are increasing.
Apples, a staple in my household, are now a rationed good. At the supermarkets I shop at, I've rarely seen them drop below $2.99/kg in recent months.
Maybe they're cheaper elsewhere but with petrol prices the way they are, I'm hardly going to burn liquid gold, aka petrol, driving to more distant supermarkets.
It's backed up by hard data too. Food and vegetable prices increased 18 per cent annually in March 2022, according to Statistics New Zealand. Eighteen per cent.
It's a hard number to swallow, especially when the Commerce Commission says the country's two major supermarket groups enjoy profits that are "consistently and materially above what we would expect in a workably competitive market".
Now I'm not suggesting the 18 per cent hike in fruit and vege prices is entirely the fault of the supermarkets.
It's obviously not, just take a look around at the state of the world. Everything is going up, not just food.
Granted, Foodstuffs and Countdown this month announced they would reduce or freeze prices on some items in the face of soaring inflation.
Countdown has frozen the prices on a list of 500 items over winter including its home branded butter, cheese and tinned tomatoes – and chardonnay, king salmon and a $23 chocolate cake.
Foodstuffs has cut prices by 10 per cent on more than 110 everyday items. A full list of the impacted items has not yet been made available, although the company has said it would include items such as bread, cheese, mixed vegetables, tinned tuna and rolled oats.
How much of an impact these initiatives will have is yet to be seen.
Consumer NZ last week started a petition called Stop the Super Profits. The petition reads: "We're calling on Minister David Clark to act now to create more competition, make profits fair and lower grocery prices for New Zealanders."
The petition follows the Commerce Commission's final report into New Zealand's $22 billion supermarket industry, released in March, which found competition was "not working well" within the sector.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said these supermarkets were making more than double what was considered a fair rate of return on capital investment, deriving excess profits of about $1 million a day, every day, across New Zealand.
In my view, excess is the keyword here.
Foodstuffs boss Chris Quin last week hit back, saying supermarkets in New Zealand's $22 billion industry are not earning excess profits of $1 million each day as claimed.
The two major chains have had to deal with increasing operating costs around Covid regulations, staff sickness and supply chain issues. But, in my view, they're certainly still making plenty of money.
Businesses exist purely to make a profit. That's their whole purpose. If they're not earning money or, at the very least breaking even, then they're failing.
It's right that they are providing their owners and shareholders with an income, and a good one at that.
But I believe a business can still earn money without taking advantage of its customers. And, in my opinion, it feels like we're being taken advantage of when it comes to grocery prices because we're a small country in the middle of nowhere with next to no other feasible options.
Countdown and Foodstuffs together account for about 80 to 90 per cent of the industry.
Consumer NZ describes supermarket profits as a "slap in the face" to Kiwis struggling to put food on the table.
A slap in the face is, in my opinion, a good way to describe how these profits make me feel.
I'm a homeowner on a strict budget, like many other middle New Zealanders.
The 18 per cent increase in fruit and vegetable prices has been a major source of strain on my family.
Fruits and vegetables are about 30 per cent of my grocery spending.
They're also foods without any real possible cheaper substitutes. I can (and do) buy a bag of frozen peas and corn for a few dollars, but that can't replace potatoes, kumara or celery, for example.
From my perspective, seeing companies that sell basic human needs turning multimillion-dollar profits in a time of hardship hurts.