FGC disappointed at Government tobacco decision

Press Release 04/11/2010

The Food and Grocery Council expressed disappointment today at the Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia’s decisions that will prohibit all visible tobacco retail displays, void current New Zealand grocery industry commercial agreements and potentially deny companies the use of their trademarks.

“We believe that this approach is an overly punitive measure that will introduce significant costs to the supply chain,” said Food and Grocery Chief Executive Katherine Rich.

“We are also concerned at the precedent being set in New Zealand of legislating to void commercial grocery contract agreements between our members and supermarkets.

"From the perspective of New Zealand grocery suppliers, it’s a serious intervention for any government to cut across existing commercial contracts and to change commercial laws to void supermarket supply agreements, which are largely standard regardless of the grocery product.

"We hope the Ministries of Economic Development and Foreign Affairs & Trade have been fully consulted in this decision so that the wider implications of voiding commercial agreements plus the message this intervention sends about New Zealand’s business environment have been considered.

"The consideration of plain packaging also raises wider issues for all brand owners selling grocery products in New Zealand. Denying grocery businesses the right to use their trademarks will mean that New Zealand could be buying into an international intellectual property debate that will put our trade officials in a difficult position.

“FGC would have liked to have seen more constructive engagement with our members and our retail sector partners over issues like education and enforcement".