Supermarkets – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Fast-Food Warehouse

Just enough time to do a very quick commentary on supermarkets.  We get all up in arms about fast-food outlets sprouting up everywhere, and about the amount of crap-in-a-bag and fattening fizz pop sold in your neighbourhood convenience store.  And we get positively feral when a bottle store opens in the middle of our suburban dream.  Yet we barely bat an eyelid when a supermarket opens up in a nice and handy location to us.  Maybe, however, we need to rethink that attitude as supermarkets, it would seem, are where we are buying all the crap, including alcohol.

Sure, they look all wholesome… flower stands at the front door, a sea of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables as you enter.  But scoot past that lot, as many of you will tend to do, turn a corner, and you are warped into a twilight zone of fast foods and drinks.  I can say this with a degree of confidence as I was fortunate enough to have been leaked commercially sensitive data under threat of death if I give up my source (it turns out that just because your work for Big Food, it doesn’t mean you are all on board with what they are up to).

Back in 2009, similar data was leaked to the newspapers and appeared as this story, making for very sad reading as to just what New Zealanders were spending their money on in supermarkets.  As it turns out, we are indeed all fat because of all those high-fat foods we are eating.  It isn’t the sugar after all.  Just have a look at that 2009 list and see;

The top 10 items sold in Supermarkets…

1. Coca-Cola 1.5l
2. Wattie’s spaghetti 420g
3. Coca-Cola 2.25l
4. QB Nature’s Fresh white toast 700g
5. Wattie’s baked beans 420g
6. Dole bobby bananas (850g)
7. Tip Top super soft white toast 700g
8. Sprite lemonade 1.5l
9. QB Molenberg original toast 700g


Yes indeed, lots of high-fat cola, tinned spaghetti, high-fat white bread, tinned baked beans, and high-fat bananas…

Jump forward to 2012/2013 and little has changed.  We are still gorging ourselves on fat.  Take a look at the table I was sent.

Top 20 Supermarket ItemsUnlike the 2009 top-10, this data does include alcohol and tobacco but still excludes unpackaged vegetables and fruits (well I hope it does else it makes for much worse reading).  This list is ranked in order of millions of dollars, which isn’t entirely helpful to us.  What we need to do is look at the “Units Mill” column to see just how much of each product we are buying. Reordering the list from that column gives us the following ranking;

  1. Confectionery – 164 million units
  2. Biscuits – 144
  3. Bread – 142
  4. Milk/Cream – 139
  5. Snacks/Dips – 122
  6. Carbonated beverages – 114
  7. Wine – 68
  8. Cat Food – 61
  9. Breakfast Cereals – 58
  10. Dairy/Spreads – 58
  11. Yoghurts/Desserts – 43
  12. Cold Meats – 38
  13. Eggs – 36
  14. Cheese/Processed Chesse – 35
  15. Coffee – 35
  16. Toilet Tissue – 35
  17. Ice Cream – 32
  18. Beer – 30
  19. Meat/Poultry/Fish – 16
  20. Tobacco – 15

I would argue that, in the top 10, the most nutritious thing you lot are buying is cat food… though that is most likely to be wheat biscuits for your cat, so then again, maybe not.

The big growth area seems to be yoghurts, followed by confectionery.  It isn’t all bad news, however, as eggs seem to be on the up too.

I will leave you to ponder the implications of this list.  But just keep a bit more of an open mind the next time someone is getting their knickers all bunched up about another burger bar and/or bottle store opening in their neighbourhood, but they don’t bat an eyelid at another bulk fast-food and alcohol warehouse supermarket being built.


10 thoughts on “Supermarkets – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Fast-Food Warehouse

  1. Pingback: Supermarkets – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Fast-Food Warehouse | Paleo Digest

  2. Lynda

    Gobsmacked that confectionery is at the top. I never buy any so someone else is certainly having my share! What a sad reflection on how New Zealander’s are eating.

  3. eterrys

    Here in the US, finding full-fat yoghurt is almost impossible. Most of the yoghurt I see should be lumped together with the desserts. Full-fat milk also takes up very little shelf-space. The vast majority is either low or non-fat/

    1. Larry_SEA

      I find it relatively easy to find whole fat yogurt, at least in Seattle. Finding full-fat yogurt from pastured cows, however, requires a visit to my local farmer’s market.

  4. Pingback: Supermarkets are Fast-Food Warehouses | CrossFit Locus


    I have been directed to your blog from someone in Aus. I am on a weight loss mission but the current quest is to find non drug, ie nutritional help, for my husband who is about to have his 2nd angioplasty to his femoral artery. He is 77. We live on the Coromandel Peninsula but will be in Christchurch for 5-6 weeks from Sept 21st and I am hoping to find some medical advice. Maybe you can point us too a suitable practitioner. We have both been wheat free for more than 12 months and I have a leaning toward Paleo and personally follow a LCHF diet.


    1. thatpaleoguy Post author

      Hi Ann

      I don’t know of anyone in CHC who would be suitable to work with you and your husband. I could however give you a contact in WLG for a GP there if that is any use?


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