Supermarket giant Countdown is facing fresh questions after
large bins of whole snapper found at a waste meat processing
plant were traced to its supply chain.
The fish were found at a Waikato rendering plant which turns
it into fish meal and fish oil. A docket found with the bins
shows 6.7 tonnes of fish were delivered to Waikato By
Products in January.
A fisherman who discovered the fish at the company's Tuakau
base found the docket on a visit, during which he filmed new
deliveries of fish to the plant. The docket describes the
origin of the fish as "Prog - Penrose".
Progressive, which runs Countdown supermarkets, has confirmed
fish considered "unfit for human consumption" is turned into
fertiliser but says the amount is small.
A spokeswoman for Countdown denied there was any dumping.
"I'm sure you can gather it just doesn't make commercial
sense for us to dump fish."
Instead, she said 0.2 per cent of fish in its supply chain
over the past year was rendered down to fish meal or fish
"We work daily to manage our fish supply and ensure we have
the right amount for our stores every day. If we have extra
product, we will always sell this through our stores at a
discount, so that there is no wastage."
Countdown currently has snapper fillets for sale at $38.99 a
The supermarket chain is already under scrutiny after a
complaint from Labour MP Shane Jones to the Commerce
Commission following allegations of anti-competitive
behaviour. The discovery of the discarded fish has prompted
Mr Jones to demand an investigation.
The MP was shown footage of the fish by Maori TV's Native
Affairs show, which will screen it tonight as part of an
investigation into the practice.
In a letter to Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, Mr
Jones asked why recreational fishing limits had been cut when
there appeared to be surplus fish in the commercial supply
"If waste is occurring you should act. After all, how will
dumping contribute positively to the rebuilding of the
fishery? I request that you conduct a thorough review to
assure Kiwis that all regulations are being observed in the
face of this dumping. At a time when recreational fishers are
being asked to make a sacrifice it would appear that
supermarkets are grasping at profit to the detriment of the
snapper fishery," he wrote.
Native Affairs returns to Maori TV tonight at 8.30pm.
Shane Jones v supermarkets
Feb 12: Jones, using parliamentary privilege, accuses
Countdown of pressuring NZ suppliers into paying to keep
their products on its shelves. Owner Progressive denies the
Feb 20: Commerce Commission announces it will formally
investigate allegations of anti-competitive behaviour by
Yesterday: Mr Jones sends letter to Primary Industries
Minister Nathan Guy, questioning the disposal of fish in the
commercial supply chain.
- David Fisher of the NZ Herald