Newsroom launches with smashing egg story

Newsroom launched yesterday. They are promising big new things as far as journalism goes but have a lot of media experience behind them. Their About:

Newsroom is an independent, New Zealand-based news and current affairs site. We deliver in-depth storytelling for thinking audiences with an interest in the people, progress, and democracy of Aotearoa. Our team of experienced, award-winning journalists produces quality written and video stories that set the national news agenda and inform intelligent conversations at every level of New Zealand life.

The independence of our journalism is supported by our partners in the corporate and tertiary education sectors, as well as by private donations from New Zealanders. To add your support to our independent voice, make a donation using the Press Patron platform link at the top of this page.

The kicked off with a range of stories, but the one that made the most impact was a revelation that battery eggs were being sold as free range eggs. Following their publication the Serious Fraud Office announced they were investigating.

Millions of caged eggs sold as free range in NZ

Those free range eggs you bought at Countdown may not have been free range at all.

A Newsroom investigation has revealed that millions of free range eggs sold at Countdown before this year were likely to have been laid by caged hens.

They were packaged as Palace Poultry brand free range eggs laid at a South Auckland farm, but Newsroom’s Morgan Tait and Melanie Reid reveal a large quantity are from caged egg suppliers.

If these allegations are true it is a major scandal of deceit that is very embarrassing and for egg suppliers as well as for Countdown. Many customers are likely to feel ripped off and deceived.

They followed up yesterday with SFO investigating Palace Poultry eggs

The Serious Fraud Office has confirmed it is investigating claims that Palace Poultry sold caged eggs as free range.

Countdown supermarkets have today removed all of the brand’s eggs from its shelves after a Newsroom investigation revealed that Palace Poultry was buying caged eggs from an egg wholesaler and using them to bolster its own supply of free range eggs.

The SFO previously “refused to confirm or deny” if it was involved, but today a spokeswoman confirmed it was investigating.

And more today: Countdown to audit all free range egg suppliers

Countdown says it will now audit all its free range egg suppliers following the caged egg scandal.

The supermarket chain removed Palace Poultry brand eggs from its shelves on Monday after a Newsroom investigation revealed that millions of those eggs were caged and not free range.

The audit will be carried out by Quality Assure and is expected to take several weeks. It will include Countdown’s own labels as well as other brands.

Brands caught up in the scandal are, Woodland, Farmer Brown and Countdown’s own brand, Select. Palace Poultry sourced and packaged eggs for these brands, as well as its own, but ceased providing eggs for Select in 2014.

Spokesman for Countdown, James Walker, said “We want to know what’s happening here and we want to know now. All our egg suppliers will be audited by a third party.”

Countdown says it will now audit all its free range egg suppliers following the caged egg scandal.

The supermarket chain removed Palace Poultry brand eggs from its shelves on Monday after a Newsroom investigation revealed that millions of those eggs were caged and not free range.

Brands caught up in the scandal are, Woodland, Farmer Brown and Countdown’s own brand, Select. Palace Poultry sourced and packaged eggs for these brands, as well as its own, but ceased providing eggs for Select in 2014.

And Video: Caged eggs sold in supermarkets as free range

This is a big and very promising start for Newsroom. It is good to have an alternative news source.


ID required for zero alcohol products

Both Countdown and Foodstuffs say they restrict sales of zero alcohol drinks to those 18 years of old and over, and Countdown at least require ID to sell some no alcohol products.

This is ridiculous. Supermarkets should make it as easy as possible to buy alcohol-alternative drinks.

Common sense seems to have been hijacked by supermarket stupidity and bureaucracy.

Stuff reported Customers fuming as supermarkets demand age ID to sell zero alcohol beer:

It looks like beer, it’s brewed like beer, but it has no alcohol – so should you need ID to buy it?

Auckland resident Ben Roberts doesn’t think so, and was annoyed when  he and his wife were denied by Countdown Lynfield.

Roberts, 22, had ID but his wife Sarah, 31, did not and the couple were told that although DB Export Citrus was alcohol-free, it was still treated as an alcoholic beverage.

The product has zero per cent alcohol but the packaging is similar to that of normal DB Export beer, and the supermarket displays it next to the usual beer range.

Countdown sell it alongside alcoholic drinks and therefore have included it in the alcoholic drink category so require ID to sell it if they are unsure whether a purchaser is old enough to buy alcohol.

This is stupid.

Bundaberg citrus and fruit drinks are brewed, but they are on soft drink shelves so I presume can be purchased without ID.

A number of brewed no alcohol ginger beers are also sold as soft drinks, presumably to people who are under 18 or don’t have ID. They are also sold as soft drinks.

Ginger beer with alcohol is sold in the alcoholic section of the supermarket so should be age restricted.

But applying age restrictions just because a supermarket decides to stock them alongside alcoholic drinks seems ridiculous.

Countdown spokesman James Walker said zero per cent alcohol was a substitute for alcohol and the company’s policy was to treat it as such.

“These products are a fast-growing category, as our 18+ customers look for low or no-alcohol alternatives.

“It’s Countdown’s policy that zero per cent and low products should be treated like the rest of our beer and wine products and sold responsibly.”

Foodstuffs New Zealand, which owns the Pak ‘n Save and New World brands, also confirmed  it would not sell the product to customers under 18.


DB senior communications adviser Simon Smith said Export Citrus zero per cent was designed for, and targeted at, legal drinkers.

“As such, we support retail partners who require ID from customers to prove the purchaser is over 18 if they believe that is appropriate.”

It sounds like DB wants Export Citrus sold alongside beers and ciders so has to go along with supermarket categorisation regarding ID requirements.

Last month brewers voiced their concern that under current legislation, beer with alcohol levels of 1.15 per cent must be kept separate from more potent drinks, which have to be displayed within a designated area.

That contradicts what the supermarkets are doing.

But supermarkets were also reluctant to display no-alcohol beers next to soft drinks and juice, because of the packaging.

That doesn’t make sense.

Justice Minister Amy Adams admitted there was a problem, and announced the  regulations would soon be amended.

“It doesn’t make sense that supermarkets technically cannot place these non-alcoholic products alongside alcohol when we’re trying to promote responsible drinking.

“It’s also irritating for supermarkets and confusing for customers.”

It certainly seems confusing and irritating for customers, but why the hell are regulation changes required?

Common sense has been hijacked by bureaucracy.

Supermarket conditions – parking on streets ban

Countdown has been battling business limiting Dunedin City for some time, but were yesterday consent to build a new supermarket in Mosgiel – with a number of restrictive conditions attached.

Otago Daily Times reports Mosgiel supermarket approved.

  • The new store, which will be more than 50% larger than the present Mosgiel Countdown
  • Two protected yew trees on the site will be retained
  • No retail tenancies, other than a ”coffee dispensary”, will be permitted on the site
  • The customer car park will be locked during non-trading hours
  • Pylon signage is no larger than 6m high and 2.2m wide
  • Heavy vehicle usage limited to Gordon Rd
  • Low-tone beeping technology will be fitted to forklifts, all of which will be electric-powered quieter models.
  • Install noise-reducing glazing to nearby residential properties

Despite the noise reduction measures neighbouring houses have to be double glazed.

On top of all of that is one of the silliest conditions I’ve seen.

  • Supermarket staff will not be allowed to park their cars on surrounding streets.

How can they police that? More importantly, how can they prohibit private citizens from parking on public streets? Are they only banned from parking on streets during their shift hours or at any time?

The Mosgiel Countdown has had a major battle – they won some, as the DCC had recommended limiting opening hours to 9 am – 6 pm, which would have been an anti-competitive limitation as the New World open s 8 am – 9 pm.

Some of the conditions are still quite restrictive. Will heavy vehicles be banned entirely from other adjoining streets or just while delivering to Countdown?

But the ban on staff parking on streets is surely contrary to basic citizens’ rights.

Dunedin anti development again

Dunedin already has a reputation for being anti-development, unless it’s University related, they seem to do what they like.

Mosgiel is the fastest growing part of Dunedin (one of the only growing parts). So Countdown applied for resource consent to build a supermarket there.

But a Dunedin City Council planner has recommended that consent be declined, as reported by ODT in Planner strikes a blow to proposal.

The recommendation comes on the basis the supermarket would have significant ”adverse affects” on the community.

The plan for a new Countdown on Gordon Rd, which was predicted to add 48 jobs, prompted concern among Mosgiel residents.

There were nine submissions against the development, citing increased traffic, pedestrian safety, noise and insufficient on-site parking among residents’ concerns, three submissions in support and six neutral.

I can imagine a Countdown supermarket might have an adverse effect on the profits of the existing New World supermarket, and sure it would effect traffic flows.

Council planner Amy Young’s opinion is one piece of evidence to be considered when the council’s hearings committee convenes to hear submissions next week.

In the report, Ms Young said she did not agree with Countdown’s argument the supermarket would maintain and enhance amenity values in what was a residential zone.

”I disagree with this statement and believe that the applicant has made no concessions in terms of designing a development that can integrate with, rather than dominate the residential environment.”

Ms Young also said Countdown’s application lacked detail about two other retail sites, pedestrian safety and residential amenity.

I thought a place to be food would be an essential residential amenity. And spreading out traffic and being closer to some parts of town would be an advantage.

It may be that Countdown has been not thorough enough in it’s application.

But on the surface this seems just another nail in Dunedin’s development coffin.