Organics grocer Huckleberry signs first wholesale deal with Woolworths New Zealand, more products and lower prices expected for customers

Friday 2 September 2022, 8:29AM

By Undertow Media NZ


Huckleberry has grown from a single small specialty shop to a leading health and wellness business with four organic grocery stores
Huckleberry has grown from a single small specialty shop to a leading health and wellness business with four organic grocery stores Credit: Huckleberry

2 September 2022: Organics grocer Huckleberry and Woolworths New Zealand (WWNZ) have announced the first wholesale agreement for WWNZ to provide a range of groceries to Huckleberry stores, with access to a greater product range at better prices cited as key benefits for Huckleberry’s customers.

Huckleberry has grown from a single small specialty shop to a leading health and wellness business with four organic grocery stores in the North Island along with a burgeoning e-commerce site. New owners 2121 Group took over the business in February 2022 and are on a mission to provide customers with quality organic grocery options at more competitive prices.

Darren Guo, Huckleberry Managing Director, said the government’s push for supermarkets to open up their wholesale channel was just the impetus they needed to get conversations started.

“Eating organic food shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone, which is why we strive to give Kiwi shoppers access to the organic options they want, at the most competitive prices.

”The partnership with Woolworths’ wholesale business is a big win for our customers as we can access a much broader organics range at better prices thanks to their volumes and scale. We have always had a steadfast commitment to products and produce from New Zealand, plus now we can add so much more variety from around the world.

“It’s exactly what the industry and our customers need during this time of high inflation,” says Darren Guo.           

Following the Commerce Commission’s market study into the retail grocery sector, and its final recommendations published in March, the government confirmed its expectation that the major supermarkets work to open up their wholesale channels.

In June, WWNZ called for early expressions of interest from potential wholesale customers and has since also set up a new business, New Zealand Grocery Wholesale, to focus on understanding the demand for groceries through the wholesale channel, negotiating with suppliers on aspects like price, volume and supply, working to set up the systems needed, and getting the business up and running.

Steve Sexton, WWNZ’s Director - NZ Grocery Wholesale and Local, said while the business isn’t able to provide wholesale supply at a large scale yet, getting this first agreement in place with a multi-store competitor like Huckleberry is important and shows WWNZ’s genuine commitment to encouraging more competition in New Zealand.

“We’re really transparent about the fact that currently, the whole WWNZ business is set up to service our Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice stores. Starting a wholesale business and all the complexity that brings isn’t an easy task - but we’re determined to get there.  We’ve been working hard to get this agreement in place and we are confident it will be the first of many.

“We are a large retailer in the New Zealand market, but small by international standards, so we understand some of the frustrations that Huckleberry experiences in accessing range and good prices.  We know that we’re in a better position to help provide that access than smaller NZ-based businesses, and we’re committed to doing that for the benefit of Kiwi consumers.

“It’s going to need a bit of experimentation as we work through order quantities, demand, delivery and logistics, and test and learn so we can quickly scale for other wholesale customers in the future.  We are currently in discussions with more than 50 retailers and other organisations who have reached out to us.  The grocery sector is built around fast-moving goods and efficiency which does present challenges working with small, one-off retailers, but it’s our view that we can do this - and we’re giving it a really good shot to make a difference,” says Steve Sexton.

WWNZ’s New Zealand Grocery Wholesale business operates separately from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice, with a different buying team having discussions with suppliers around products, supply and potential wholesale volumes.

“The support from suppliers is critical for wholesale to be a success,” says Steve Sexton.  “The government has been really clear that it wants to see wholesale opening up so we’ve all got to play our part.”


About Huckleberry

Established in the early 1990’s, Huckleberry has evolved from a single specialty organic food store to a leading health and wellness business dedicated to helping Kiwis to make positive, healthful and sustainable lifestyle choices that are better for people and the planet. Grounded in the values of healthier living, sustainability and social responsibility, Huckleberry is a member of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand and empowers shoppers to trust in every product they buy through BioGro certification.

About Woolworths NZ

Woolworths New Zealand (WWNZ) is one of New Zealand’s largest employers with 22,000 team members across 190 supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices.  WWNZ is also the franchisor of more than 70 SuperValue and FreshChoice stores, which are locally owned and operated.  Each week we serve over three million customers and work with hundreds of food producers and suppliers throughout Aotearoa.  We’re committed to giving back to the communities we live and work in, including through Countdown Food Rescue which donates more than $5.2 million of food each year to The Salvation Army and other food rescue groups and food banks. Through the Countdown Food for Good Foundation we also provide local funding and sponsorship to help Kiwis thrive by building a stronger, healthier New Zealand for the future.  Woolworths New Zealand is part of Woolworths Group.