We love a company with a social conscience and Countdown is making all the right moves in our books. Last year it was the first supermarket in New Zealand to announce a move away from single-use plastic bags by the end of 2018; it proudly supports Kelly Tarlton's turtle rehabilitation programme. And this week we found out it is cutting the cost of some of its women's sanitary products to address 'period poverty'.
The supermarket chain is cutting prices on 15 of its in-house branded feminine hygiene products (Select and Homebrand), some by as much as half.
In the past two years the supermarket chain has worked with The Salvation Army and Manurewa MP Louisa Wall to raise awareness about the cost of feminine hygiene products being out of reach for some New Zealand families.
The trio had joined forces after Louisa Wall was contacted by a south Auckland school and made aware of the fact female students were missing school or making do with newspaper, rags or the pages from telephone books because their families could not afford sanitary pads or tampons.
"The loss of dignity for our young women, and having to do that, means it's incumbent on us to provide them with the products that they need - and sanitary products are a necessity, they are not a luxury," Wall told RNZ last year.
Since the campaign was launched via The Foodbank Project, more than $190,000 of tampons and sanitary pads have been donated through the scheme.
The new price cuts reflect the supermarket chain's commitment to the campaign. Countdown's corporate affairs general manager Kiri Hannifin explains, "Too many women go without sanitary products themselves so they can provide essentials like food and rent for their family or, for some families, it's simply something they can't stretch their budgets to afford for their children."
Last year Pharmac rejected a request to fund women's sanitary items, with the Government drug-buying agency saying sanitary products were not medicines.
Laura Henderson, a co-founder of Wellington-based cooperative Go with the Flow, which collects and distributes sanitary products to those who need them most, told Stuff she was impressed by the move by Countdown.
"Big kudos to them for jumping on board ... to have recognition from major companies is a huge step in the right direction."