NZFGC welcomes the appointment of former Chair Pierre van Heerden as New Zealand’s inaugural Grocery Commissioner.

Pierre has some 25 years’ experience across the FMCG sector, including as Executive General Manager at Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing New Zealand for 10 years, and managing Farrah’s Breads and Mojo Coffee.

He was NZFGC Chair from 2012-2016, and before that was Co-Vice-Chair.

He starts in the Commerce Commission-based position this week, and joins their Board.

Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley said the appointment of the Grocery Commissioner is a momentous day for the sector as well as the wider retail environment.

“By holding supermarkets to account, the Commissioner will help make a meaningful difference to competition and behaviour that shoppers and the sector so desperately want to see.

“As a former long-time executive in the FMCG sector, Pierre will bring a deep understanding of the sector to this vital role.

“Establishing the Commissioner is a sensible approach to ensure necessary change happens, The Government signalled this move very early on in its response to the Commerce Commission’s market report, showing just how serious it is about what’s been happening across the supermarket sector, both from a shopper and a supplier point of view.

“We congratulate Minister Webb for following through on the Government’s determination to establish a Commissioner, and for him and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials delivering a new Act and consulting on the draft Grocery Code of Conduct with such pace. We look forward to the Code being in place ahead of the election.

“Having the Commissioner inside the Commission is the ideal move because the Commission has a wealth of information at its fingertips on economic and competition regulation, fair trading, and consumer protection, as well as a deep understanding of the sector thanks to its work on the market study. We commend Commission Chair Dr John Small for enabling this.

“As well, working with a strong and comprehensive Grocery Code of Conduct, we are looking forward to the Commissioner issuing guidance on aspects such as application of the good faith provisions, operation of the grace period provisions during transition, and arrangements around the grocery supply agreements.

“This is a giant step toward a better and fairer grocery sector, and that will benefit both consumers and suppliers.The Food and Grocery Council looks forward to working with Mr van Heerden and his team, and retailers, to help deliver consumers optimum choice and price.”

The Commerce Commission said:

Commerce Commission welcomes the appointment of the Grocery Commissioner, Pierre van Heerden

The Commerce Commission has today welcomed the appointment of Pierre van Heerden as the Grocery Commissioner by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Mr van Heerden will take up his role as the Grocery Commissioner at the Commerce Commission on 13 July 2023.

Commerce Commission Chair John Small says: “Pierre brings a huge amount of experience and knowledge about the grocery sector to this role”.

“He is passionate about being a champion for Kiwi consumers – I know he sees the Grocery Industry Competition Act as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to level the playing field in the grocery sector. It will support more retailers to enter the market and promote stronger competition with the regulated grocery retailers on price, quality, range of products and convenience.”

The Grocery Industry Competition Act designates Foodstuffs North Island, Foodstuffs South Island, and Woolworths New Zealand as regulated grocery retailers (RGRs). It puts requirements on them to consider requests from other retailers for wholesale supply in good faith and to follow the Grocery Supply Code in their dealings with suppliers. These changes are designed to bring more competition to the sector and more transparency to agreements between the RGRs and suppliers, benefitting New Zealand consumers over the long-term.

Dr Small says: “The scrutiny on this $22 billion sector since the Commission’s Market Study has already delivered positive changes. The RGRs have worked constructively to relinquish restrictive lease covenants that posed a considerable obstacle to other retailers developing or expanding their grocery offering to consumers.”

Foodstuffs and Woolworths NZ have also quickly put in place the wholesale access schemes required of them by the Act and are taking orders to provide wholesale supply to other retailers.

“Pierre has deep knowledge of the grocery sector along with over 25 years of experience in the supplier side and working with retailers – he is the right person to lead grocery regulation and build on these early, positive developments. He is passionate about delivering a long-lasting and sustainable shift to a grocery sector where New Zealanders enjoy the benefits of retailers competing hard and innovating in order to attract and retain customers.”

Editor’s note

Pierre van Heerden is an experienced Chief Executive and board member. Most recently, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Mojo Coffee, General Manager Commercial Development of Zealandia, and Executive General Manager of Farrah’s Breads. Prior to this, van Heerden was Managing Director of Southern Sky Associates, a business consultancy. He has also been the Chief Executive Officer of Brancourts Dairy Group, Australia and Executive General Manager of Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing New Zealand for 10 years, Managing Director of Dick Smith Foods in Australia, as well as having held various executive roles with Sanitarium in Australia.
van Heerden has also held roles as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Food and Grocery Council of New Zealand, New Zealand Representative of APEC’s Policy Partnership on Food Security, a member of expert advisory groups – Front of Pack Labelling as well as Health Star Rating advisory groups (on behalf of the Minister of Food Safety), and industry advisor on the Food and Beverage Information project. He has also been Chair of Life Health Foods Limited and director of New Zealand Health Association Limited, SoSoy (Pty) Ltd and the International Health Food Association. He is well educated with recent studies at both London Business School and Insead on a Prime Ministers Business Scholarship. He holds various other qualifications including BBA, Hons BCom, Hons BCompt, MBL, is a qualified Chartered Accountant, FCPA MInstD, GAICD

Read the Minister’s press release