In New Zealand, sadly it is cheaper to be fat than it is to be healthy.

One third of New Zealand’s 4.7 million population is overweight or obese, second behind the mighty USA. Suffice to say, New Zealanders are overfed but undernourished! The food on display is typical of a New Zealand cafe fare. Only 2 of the food items available could be considered healthy ie they were vegetarian pizza options but used white processed flour.  The lesser of two evils.  Even the supermarket aisles are bursting at the seams with brightly coloured packets of sugar and fat, at a fraction of the price of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, meat, dairy, nuts ….. food that provides nutrients and eliminates toxins and waste from the body.  

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20191010_060256012.jpg
Longwhite Cafe – Christchurch Airport

In New Zealand, sadly it is cheaper to be fat than it is to be healthy. I find it difficult to buy fresh produce, including seafood and meat in New Zealand for two reasons. The price and the quality. Quality fresh produce is like blood diamonds, expensive and hard to find! I prefer to buy fruit and vegetables from a market or a farm. However, the prices are boutique and being on a tight budget, I learnt to go without.

Island hopping experience

I took a 9am Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton and didn’t eat breakfast before or pack food for the trip. I was greeted by a typical Kiwi breakfast of  scrambled eggs, baked beans, bacon, sausages, cheap toasted bread, overpriced McDonald’s sundae sized bircher museli, apples and oranges, stingy serves of California Rolls, a plethora of tired looking meat and salad rolls, mostly containing fatty bacon (which ordinarily I love), which was microwaved before being toasted? When I looked around, I was the only one eating.  Obviously, I was with seasoned travellers who knew to eat beforehand. Rookie mistake!  When I asked about other hot food options, I was told that lunch would be carbohydrate and fat rich lasagna, which I do enjoy eating.  However, I wanted something healthy.  Seeing my state of agitation, one of the kind customer service attendants suggested I try one of the other cafes.  I bought a fruit salad that tasted like it came from a can but it looked fresh and, a tired looking salad roll, without bacon.  

I did post Interislander reviews but didn’t get a response …… I travelled back from Picton to Wellington on Bluebridge ferry and, although I didn’t buy any food, as I was seated beside the bar/canteen, I did notice the food was predominantly junk food. The Interislander Ferry, with 3 levels for passengers was far more spacious than the Bluebridge Ferry, where we were crammed onto a single level, about a third of the ferry length. However, Bluebridge Ferry did allow me to change my booking date for the supersaver non-refundable fare, without a penalty charge.

Blind leading the blind

I walked into a Work and Income center in Christchurch, a welfare office and 85% of the staff were obese, 10% were overweight and 5% fell into the healthy weight range. These people are tertiary educated and are employed to help New Zealanders. Yet, they’re incapable of helping themselves.  Staff would earn an average of $50k, which suggests that even paid employees lack the capacity to buy healthy food.  

Why? The majority of what New Zealand produces, which generates 19% of New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product  ie dairy, beef, sheep, seafood, fruit and vegetables is exported, driving the domestic prices up. It’s a luxury to eat healthy in a country that touts being green and pristine. Unfortunately, the latter is a con because the likes of 1080 a poison to control possums and every other animal that eats it, fertiliser, ocean acidification, agricultural-farming including dairy, beef and sheep are contributing to greenhouse emissions,  due to increased levels of methane gas release, the leaching of nitrogen and phosphorous from the water.  Thus, the demise of the New Zealand environment and erosion of the ozone.  Hence, why fair skinned New Zealanders age prematurely.  Am I a greenie who’s on the global warming bandwagon? Yes, but I obtained the information from a New Zealand government issued paper, available for public consumption, addressing the Food and Fibre Sector in New Zealand.  To add insult to injury, most of this produce is exported.  Thus, driving the domestic prices up and, forcing people to eat cheap fat rich mince and sausages, drink watered down over priced milk, consume sugar rich yoghurt and eat bland edam and Colby cheese, because tasty is $2 more per block.  Fruit and vegetables are equally expensive and wholegrains are only for those with sums of disposable cash.  

Tell me why?

I eat a lot of fruit and nuts in Australia because it’s affordable even on a tight budget, if one buys the store brands from Aldi, Coles and Woolworths. It’s best to buy from all 3 stores to get value for money. Fortunately, they are all predominantly congregated together. However, New Zealand produces smaller packets of everything, including dried fruit and nuts. Hence, I posted a comment on Woolworths Australia, who own Countdown and asked the following:

Hi, I’m currently in New Zealand where Woolworths Supermarkets trades as Countdown. I’m also aware that Supervalue and FreshChoice Supermarkets are part of the Woolworths chain. I’m interested to know why Woolworths charges New Zealand consumers more for the same products that are sold in Australia. Australians earn more and the dollar is worth more but Australians pay less at the register. Also, the products available are so in smaller packaging and yet cost more eg 200g Woolworths branded Apricots in New Zealand costs $3 but that size isn’t available in Australia, it’s 500g for $5. The cheapest 1kg block of tasty cheese is $12 in NZ, as opposed to about $7 for the same quality in OZ. These are but a few of many examples and I’m aware that the 15% GST has an impact but $5? I’m aware that Foodstuffs New World and Pak n Save are the other supermarkets fleecing New Zealand consumers but where is Woolworths Groups justification? One reason I ask is that obesity is a massive issue in NZ and it’s largely due to the over priced and poor quality supposedly fresh produce and meat sold in NZ supermarkets. Whereas there are always specials for junk food. Why are people in NZ paying more????

Posted October 24 2019, Riverton New Zealand.

Woolworths were kind enough to promptly post the following response.

 Hi, we’re committed to providing quality service and products so we do apologise for any inconvenience or dissatisfaction caused. We always endeavour to ensure that we’re competitive over the range of products we stock, withstanding factors over which we have limited control such as price movements at other stores, changes in the supplier’s price or increase in costs. Our prices reflect the cost of goods and of doing business and we will continue to aim to ensure that our customers get the best value basket of shopping in the market. Please feel free to contact the Countdown Customer Service, please contact 0800 40 40 40 or you can email them at Thanks.

A random person made the following amusing but sadly true comment in response.

Price difference because of population difference NGA why is half of NZ living in OZ , and why are they the size of 3 people ..using up the resources of 3 people per 1…. and why do they eat KFC like for breakfast lunch an dinner…..fat there fat here.,….its KFC and Karnt XXXXXXX COOK …

I responded to her with the following factual but useless information. Useless because knowing it doesn’t change things for consumers in New Zealand. I sympathise greatly with them and it’s a primary reason I can’t live in New Zealand.

Thanks xxxxx I’m aware of why the differences exist, I wanted to read what Woolworths had to say. If you read the response, you’ll see that it’s political speak for “money first at consumers expense”. How do I discern that, I highlighted specific issues and they were ignored and, the spiel was what I expected to read. What you may not be aware of is that about 75% if what NZ produces is exported for profit and what’s left being is shit. Woolworths and Foodstuffs is exploiting the NZ consumer and contributing to the obesity factor in NZ. Woolworths are lying when they state they’re ensuring that NZers are getting the best value for money because all 3 if their shop fronts ie Countdown, FreshChoice and Supervalue Supermarkets all have the same pricing structure. I will grant they they are slightly better than Foodstuffs ie New World and Pak n Save which sell numerous tiny packets of food substances at extortionate prices. Thus, when I return to Australia I will discontinue buying from Woolworths, including Big W. Whilst I’m here in New Zealand, I’ll make an informed choice as to where I spend money. The primary issue why Woolworths and Foodstuffs and every other organisation that provides services to people are able to exploit NZers is twofold, people voted in greedy politicians and kept them there and there’s no competition, to keep the prices down. Finally, if you’re going to eat junk food because you can’t cook, subways is the best junk food choice followed by vegetarian pizza.

Back in Melbourne, I didn’t make good on my promise not to buy from Woolworths. However, with Aldi and the Preston market across the road, the need to purchase from Woolworths is grossly diminished. However, recently I needed products that could only be purchased from Woolworths or Coles and because I wanted to go to the market, I shopped at Woolworths. One of the products I needed was butter and I inadvertently purchased the New Zealand Westgold 400g block of butter pictured below, for $5.15. Upon realising that I had been shortchanged by 100g (Woolworths brand 500g butter is $5.00), today (December 30 2019) I posted the following on Woolworths Facebook page.

400g block of butter from New Zealand based Chinese conglomerate Yili

Woolworths, I made contact 2 months ago to ask why there were so many overpriced smaller packaged products such as the butter in the photo, being sold in New Zealand, when it isn’t being done here. I grabbed the butter without realising that it was a 400g not a 500g pack. Priced at slightly more than the 500g pack of butter, it’s obvious that the tactics that are employed in New Zealand are now here in Australia. I hadn’t noticed the Hokitika based Westgold brand in New Zealand and I thought it worthy of trialing here in Melbourne. I’m cognisant that New Zealand exports the majority of it’s food products and Westland owned by the Chinese conglomerate Yili would all be about profiteering. It’s dastardly what Woolworths and Foodstuffs do with over inflated prices in New Zealand in light of how little people are paid over there. I don’t mind paying more for quality and I’ll be interested in the quality of the buttter. However, I’d prefer to pay for a 500g block. Stop shortchanging the consumer.

Another random person, not understanding the point of what I posted, made the following comment.

If the shelf ticket says 400g…you have no one but yourself to blame for buying it….and 400g looks smaller than 500g

Also there is unit pricing which is another dead giveaway of the size

I responded with…..

you miss the point i was making. in nz the sizes for many products are smaller and more expensive than they are here. I’m letting woolworths know that what they do in nz has been spotted here. Thus, it’s about accountability, not blame.

Following on from the same theme as the random, Woolworths posted this ….

Hey, thanks for sharing your feedback with us about the price of 400gm Westgold butter. We attempt to ensure that we provide the best value to our customers on as many products as possible and aim to offer our customers the most competitive prices. Our Buying teams also review the promotional program regularly to ensure that our promotional offer matches our customer’s expectations. We appreciate your thoughts and have passed them onto our buying team for their review and consideration. Thanks.

Obviously, I hadn’t emphasised clearly that it was the size of the butter ie 400g and not necessarily the price, $5.15. Thus, I’ll need to ensure that I clearly demarcate the issue of future posts.

Even the blind can see

I met a young girl inviting people to sample Californian grapes in New World Prestons. There were 3 available, white, red and black. She’s commented that black wasn’t normally sold in supermarkets. Having bought black grapes from Melbourne supermarkets, I stood there puzzled before commenting that they were available in Australia.

She had just returned from the Gold Coast and stated how she and a friend lived on the 7 eleven salads that were available Monday to Wednesday for $3 each. 7 eleven isn’t reknown for great healthy options but even I noticed the sign on my way to the airport, the previous evening. She told me how she and her friend bought salads 3 times a day and when I looked online there were some impressive varieties. She lamented how depressing it was too live in New Zealand because one couldn’t afford to eat healthy. I wholeheatedly agreed and we started talking about and one thing lead to another and I invited her to apply for a job that I’d held previously in Melbourne, passing on my details so I could help her write her application. She like I believed in fate and I encouraged her to jump on a plane and work in Australia.

Are ready made meals the answer?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20191207_135116423.jpg
New World Prestons Christchurch Ready made meals.

I’m not big on ready made meals from the supermarket, as they’re usually frozen.  However, I was interested in this New World display in Christchurch, as I hadn’t seen such a display in a supermarket. I probably won’t ever purchase any of the meals available, which claim to be made instore, but with prices starting at $6.99, I did take a second look. Especially as I know quality ready made meals are expensive. What is obvious is that most of the meals cater to the New Zealand palate ie meat, vege and gravy. Good old kiwi tucker. Now, I have no idea about the taste and I can’t vouch for the nutritional value. But, I have looked at the photo and thought if I’m ever desperate, I might purchase one. Incidentally, I do find the salads from the deli which are made by Pearsons, whom also supply Countdown and Pak n Save, are tasty. Albeit, expensive. Again, I can’t vouch for the nutritional value.

Qualifying my position

Am I a skinny anorexic who hates fat and sugar, NO! I am of Maori and UK descent, 5’8″ and 78 kgs, which puts me in the overweight category. I love butter, bacon, full cream milk, cream, sugar and spice and all things nice. So yes, I do carry extra fat on my body but, I’m not dying to fit in with many of my fellow New Zealanders! Fortunately, I have studied nutrition, fitness and wellbeing at university so I’ve used the information to stay healthy. Being educated has meant that I’ve avoided fads and people touting what is really obvious and profiting from it. I don’t contest a person making a quid but, if people take a step back and think about what mother nature provides, it’s really obvious what we should be eating. Now more than ever, food allergies are rife and it doesn’t take a genius to work out why. Genetically modified food, an alphabet diet, seriously look on the internet and I’m sure there’s a diet for every letter of the alphabet. I do recognise that the prices of quality produce makes it cost prohibitive to purchase what people really need. Thus, people need to stop looking for secret formulas to being healthy and make sensible decisions and, put in a little bit of hard work. Some of the hard work amounts to growing one’s own vegetables. I’ve lived in apartments for over 20 years and it is possible to grow vegetables in pots with very little room. Following a youtube video and scrounging stuff from a place I worked at for a few months, I managed to make my own worm form. The most I spent was $5 for the worms. However, one can buy one from Bunnings or buy 2 buckets, one with a lid.

Equipment needed for worm farm
Worm farm construction

In New Zealand, if one is willing to travel, there are plenty of farms selling their products. Honestly, if I lived in NZ, irrespective of the cost of petrol, I would travel! Unfortunately, I no longer have my home made worm farm because I moved in with my sister temporarily and there was a garden there and compost bin, so there was no need for it. Now, I simply put all my waste into a bag, which I leave in the fridge and cycle with the bag to a little garden with compost bins near Rushall Station. However, I will look at either making another or buying one from Bunnings when I start growing potted herbs and veges.

Another aspect of hard work is exercising, even if that means walking part of the way to school or work or whereever you can manage. Perhaps, like me it means buying a second hand bike and using it regularly. I’d definitely recommend youtube to find exercise videos, which is how I started doing yoga. Now I subscribe to yogainternational and I generally stick to yin yoga, which I describe as passive stretching. I now pay $11 a month but, I used free trials to get started. Note, the s on trials ….. I used quite a number of different email addresses to obtain several months of free trials, due to a lack of funds.

October 2018 North East Valley Dunedin

I have to make an admission, a lack of funds meant a reduced caloric diet in the latter half of 2019. Thus, I’ve lost a lot of physical strength, fitness and more importantly, motivation. I’ve been spending up to 23 hours in bed and I’m having to start again. Today, I awoke early and before 7am, I had watched several episodes of star trek, did yin yoga and had tomatoes on wholegrain sourdough toast with butter of course. I’m about to cycle to South Melbourne and collect my youngest son to visit his father in Caulfield hospital. Late 2019, he had a stroke, which has been compounded by another couple of strokes and a heart attack. Four years ago he had a quadruple bypass and he didn’t learn from that experience. Melbourne provides many cheap options to eat healthy thus, his condition was preventable. However, his mental state wasn’t great and thus, he shares the fate of many Pacific Islanders and New Zealanders. A slow and uncomfortable demise.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: