If, as is likely, 2022 goes down as one of the more eventful years in the history of the Food & Grocery Council and the industry, then 2023 is looming as one of the most significant.

After what has been three tough years of unexpected and mostly unwanted surprises courtesy of Covid and the resulting economic impact compounded by a volatile international landscape, three things seem certain for this year:

  • The drive to continue the industry’s sustainability progress will continue and may intensify as we see more detail on Government requirements. This includes the Container Deposit Scheme and improvements to kerbside recycling. Along with a plastic packaging product stewardship scheme (requiring suppliers, retailers, and consumers to take responsibility for collecting and dealing with plastics), and the Australasian Recycling Label (an on-pack scheme to help consumers recycle correctly), these will continue to be an important part of our work.
  • The Grocery Industry Competition Bill will progress, and if the Government delivers to its timeframes, this vital legislation will be enacted by the middle of the year. This will enable the Code of Conduct and the Grocery Commissioner, and we should see more detail on both later in the year.
  • Inflation will continue to cause challenges and put more pressure on work in other areas as budgets are stretched.

The Food & Grocery Council will play a leading role in these areas, as it has over recent years.

Our members’ work on sustainability issues has been New Zealand-leading, and this will step up further this year with collaborations with The Packaging Forum and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation.

Our work over the past decade to highlight competition issues was the forerunner to the Commerce Commission’s Grocery Market Study and the resultant legislation which offers the opportunity to cement important changes for the industry.

All this work and our objectives clearly establish us as a voice not just for our members, but also for the wider industry.

Though we are required, first and foremost, to promote and advance the interests of our members when we liaise with government and statutory bodies and positions on legislation, regulations, by-laws and policy, in doing so as the peak industry organisation we are also influencing and championing the whole supplier industry.

With the Government set to announce a ministerial reshuffle early this year, and Commerce and Consumers Affairs Minister David Clark standing down, there will be someone new in charge of the Grocery Industry Competition Bill, and we will be watching to see if there are any changes in emphasis as a result.

Coupled with the upcoming election that will deliver either a government of a slightly different make-up to what we have now, or one that is completely different (it’s hard to see it delivering another single-party majority), that could introduce some interesting dynamics looking into 2024.

Making and reinforcing relationships with key ministers and opposition spokespeople will be critical work the Food & Grocery Council will actively pursue.

(written in December 2022, published by FMCG Business in February 2023)