The world's second-largest retailer, Costco Wholesale, wants to buy and distribute New Zealand goods to its 94 million member shoppers around the world.

Patrick Noone, managing director of Australia and New Zealand, said Costco already bought products from New Zealand for its Australian warehouse stores where it has 11 big outlets.

Costco is second only to Walmart and its net sales in the year to September 2, 2018 of US$138b (NZ$212b) were bearing down on New Zealand's total national gross domestic product of $293b in the 2018 December year.

Noone said the products Costco already sold included blueberries, apples and frozen croissants.


The croissants are in dozen-packs which are shipped frozen in containers across the Tasman, then thawed and cooked in the warehouse stores for customers to take home fresh.

"Our croissants are from Yarrows Bakery south of Auckland," Noone clarified.

Yarrows says: "Our flagship state-of-the-art bakery is located in the small south Taranaki town of Manaia and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We supply an extensive range of breads, rolls, croissants, cookies and other quality baking products to leading supermarkets, retailers and food companies. All produced on highly specialised modern equipment."

Phil Yarrow, Yarrows Bakery executive director, said his business had sold to Costco for the last six years.

"We send one 40ft container of frozen baker products from Tauranga to Sydney a week, to go to Costco's distribution centre," Yarrow said.

"We sell croissants, pizza bases and Danish pastries. New Zealand butter and apples are in our products which gives us an edge," Yarrow said.

Costco only had five stores in Australia when Yarrows first formed the relationship, he said "so we've grown with them." Yarrows had 300 staff across the group and also supplies Christmas fruit mince to Costco, he said.

Noone said the business would run roadshows for potential suppliers while the Westgate building was under construction.


Resource consents are about to be applied for, probably next month, he said. Construction work might then start next year, with a 2021 target opening date.

Patrick Noone of Costco. Photo/Costco
Patrick Noone of Costco. Photo/Costco

"We want high-quality world-class goods. Every month I go to Seattle and show off my goods, so it's a big deal for vendors," he said at Tuesday's announcement from a patch of land at Westgate where the retailer will open its first New Zealand store.

And he busted the myth that Costco just sells big: instead of around 30,000 items most supermarkets carry, the chain only stocks around 3200 items. He cited the example of a jar of Skippy peanut butter, saying Costco would only sell that brand and only in creamy and extra chunky.

That compares to supermarkets which carry a number of different brands and different styles of the same product, he emphasised.

A kiwi living in Minneapolis showed how at least two products being advertised as coming from New Zealand were being sold at his store: wine and Manuka honey.

However, both commanded premium prices. The products are far from the bottom of the range in terms of pricing: the Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir is just over $US13, while the Melora Manuka honey is just under $US40.

On Tuesday, Noone was at a media briefing at Westgate to announce Costco's arrival and said then that Costco had "a global reach, but we still also source local goods from here, Australia and Asia."