There has been a lot going on in the grocery sector in the first months of the year, and here are the five big ones.

FMCG Internship Programme

This helps bring new talent into all parts of our industry, from suppliers to supermarkets. It’s backed by the Food & Grocery Council and helps young graduates get their foot on the career ladder. They can be recruited to any functional area in a company, from finance, accounting logistics, IT, and operations, through to marketing, sales, and merchandising. The programme helps FMCG companies recruit great young people into their businesses, builds employer brand in the market, creates a pipeline of top talent keen to progress on an FMCG career path, and offers training support. Students and companies interested in exploring this further should contact Kelly Smith via

Year of the Merchandiser

In February, I announced FGC had designated 2021 The Year of the Merchandiser. This was because we wanted to celebrate all those frontline workers who were so key to the success of keeping Kiwis fed and sustained during the challenging COVID-19 lockdowns and beyond. I asked people across the sector to do their bit by taking a quick photo of their merchandiser extraordinaire, tap out a few quick sentences about why she or he is doing a fantastic job, and send it to me ( I can report nominations have started coming in and I look forward to receiving more and then sharing these short tributes through our social media pages, newsletters, and this column. Help us say thank-you.

Study into the grocery retail market

It’s a popular misconception this study by the Commerce Commission is about grocery prices, but that’s not the only issue being considered. The Chair, Anna Rawlings, has made it clear they will also be considering the treatment of suppliers, which is an area where there is significant scope for improvement. If you’d like to read FGC’s submission, you can find it on our website. In the meantime, the Commission has launched two online surveys to help suppliers and consumers inform its study into whether competition is working well in the sector, and FGC is encouraging everyone to participate. The surveys are designed to help the Commission better understand how competition is working at supplier level, and consumer behaviour, including how shoppers decide where to shop and what to buy. The Commission has also released fact sheets on how confidential information is handled and on potential outcomes, and how and when consumers can take part. The supplier survey is here. The consumer survey is here.

Shopper intelligence

FGC hosted a webinar series looking at what guides consumers’ buying decisions. It was run in conjunction with the experts at shopper researcher company Shopper Intelligence, and there were some interesting insights. The first session was on the importance and benefits of the different types of shopper and retailer data available, the second (March 10) was on how to tailor offers to different stores and shopper types, while the last (March 24), was on shopper learnings from COVID-19 and what it meant for the rest of this year.

COVID-19 Issues

Amid the disappointment of Auckland having to go into yet another lockdown, FGC continues to raise issues regarding the Government’s (at times confusing) lockdown rules, as well as the ongoing supply chain delays and problems getting product in and out of New Zealand. Latest indications are the global shipping issues and container shortages behind this are likely to mean some imported goods will be missing from supermarket shelves for some time to come, maybe as far as the middle of the year. If your company comes up against any issues you think we can help with, please call.

(originally published in Supermarket News)