Health experts air 'bread war' concerns

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 12:00 29/07/2014

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"Cheap bread" promotions are a worry, as far as some Palmerston North health experts are concerned.

A "bread war" between New Zealand's main supermarkets began this month, with Countdown delivering the first blow by offering Homebrand bread for $1.

New World fought back with the same offer for Budget bread.

Revive Nutrition and Wellness nutritionist Melanie Durette said she would rather see discounts on fruit, vegetables, dairy products and eggs to encourage people to try healthier options.

"In my experience, people eat too much bread - and not necessarily because it is cheaper but because it is an easy option."

Palmerston North dietitian Kate Morland said the promotion was reinforcing the notion that healthier choices were more expensive.

"It's a step forward in terms of helping people to pack a lunch rather than buy hot chips at school, but it's a step backwards in trying to promote a healthier bread over an unhealthier bread."

Both women advised buying wholegrain bread over wholemeal or white bread, as it was more nutritious, with more fibre, "which will keep you fuller for longer".

Foodstuffs general marketing manager Steve Bayliss said it was unlikely the price would change any time soon. New World introduced "price limits" as a pricing mechanism early last year, and the approach offered special deals on basic household staples for an extended period of time.

"The idea was to give consumers greater certainty on the value of these items week to week, rather than constant catalogue- and price-hunting," Bayliss said.

Countdown managing director Dave Chambers said reducing the price of Homebrand white and wheatmeal bread was not going to be a limited-time promotion.

"Price is really important to all New Zealanders, no matter who they are, or where they live. We can't impact the cost of our customers' rent, mortgage, or their winter power bill, but we can help provide better value at the supermarket."

Last year Countdown sold 15 million loaves of Homebrand bread and, with the drop of 48 cents a loaf, that number is expected to increase.

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- Manawatu Standard

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