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Simmons said the promotion "was so successful for New World the first time around, they've brought it back. And why wouldn't they? Food manufacturers are falling over each other to get their foods immortalised in the form of a plastic miniature. It gets people in the door, and probably makes money for New World to boot.
"The problem is that, like most advertising, only the companies that can afford it will take part. Those are the companies with bigger margins, which usually means they are selling highly processed food, stripped of nutrients and packed full of sugar, fat and salt. That is the only way to make food sit on the shelf for so long without going off, which makes the food cheaper to sell, which leaves room for an advertising budget."
But Antionette Shallue, Foodstuffs spokeswoman, said her business knew from feedback last year that Little Shop items were used by parents, teachers, nutritionists and special needs educators to, through the use of play, help children learn about healthy eating, maths and other subjects.
"It's our belief that this sort of positive play and education for children is a good thing for our community and we are very proud of our Little Shop promotion.
"We would also dispute claims around the nutritional value of the brands used in this year's Little Shop. The selection of products are representative of the types of everyday products we know our customers buy when they shop with us. This year, as with previous, there is a wide range of products including fresh vegetables, fruit and meat, examples of these include bananas, pineapple, potatoes, fresh chicken and tuna," she said.
"There is Little Shop milk and cheese and we know dairy is key to ensuring children have enough calcium in their diet and grow strong bones. Eggs also feature and eggs are considered one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing a little bit of almost every nutrient we need. Another product which is used almost every day in most Kiwi households is cooking oil, and this year we have included rice bran oil which is known to have health benefits over other oils due to its higher levels of antioxidants," she said.
By Anne Gibson of the New Zealand Herald