New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries will start selling more food products from July, the government said Tuesday, the first time it has offered to sell products at lower prices than its competitors.
“New Zealand’s economic performance and growth has taken us in a good direction,” Agriculture Minister Louise Mitchell said.
“Our economic success is due to strong economic growth and investment, strong productivity growth, the growth of our skilled workforce and low prices.”
The move will enable the government to keep a tight grip on its food prices, which have soared to $2.6 billion in April from about $1.5 billion in December.
The government will also start selling some food items from mid-July, including dairy, meat and poultry.
New Zealand has been one of the most successful countries in the world for the past 10 years with its export-led economy, which grew by more than 20% in the year to March, according to government figures.
The government has said that in the past, it sold about 1,600 products a month to consumers, including about half its dairy products.
Mitchell said that the government was not able to compete on price, but added that the price of some of its most popular foods were higher than in other countries.
In June, the New Zealand government launched a program to sell some of the nation’s biggest-selling products, including chocolate and cookies.
But the move to sell foods and food items at lower costs has faced some criticism from some politicians, who said the government should have focused on food, not other products.
Auckland-based food marketing firm New Zealand Foods said in a statement that its products were being offered at lower price points because of low consumer demand and the lack of supply.
Mitchell said that since its launch in May, New Zealand has seen “significantly lower growth than other countries” due to a “slow recovery in global markets” and a shortage of workers.
New Zealanders are increasingly moving from a rural economy into cities, Mitchell said, citing the rise of online shopping.