Already trading in Auckland but just having opened a new store in Wellington, Reduced To Clear, a grocery and food clearance outlet chain, has got nutritionists in a bit of a spin.

A new discount store selling junk food will feed our growing obesity epidemic by encouraging bad eating habits, dieticians say.

Reduced To Clear has arrived in Wellington, selling products – some past their best-before date – at half the price or less when compared with supermarkets and dairies.

Rongotai’s new store, which opened yesterday, is the second in New Zealand. Directors Sean Hills and Andy Vermeulen say they are helping reduce waste and offer cheap alternatives in a tough economic climate.

“We see it as helping the manufacturers as well, because it’s stuff they’d dump otherwise,” Mr Vermeulen said.

Mr Hills said a lot of customers at their South Auckland store were from communities where treats were rarely afforded, and were happy to be able to buy novelties for children’s birthday parties. One of their major stockists is Cadbury. Cadbury spokesman Daniel Ellis said the company did not recommend selling products after its best-before date, but had an arrangement with Reduced To Clear its only such deal to sell excess stock.

“Generally the supermarkets won’t take it because they can’t sell it in time.” Nutritionists and health activists have criticised the deal and the shop, saying it is irresponsible to offer cut-price junk food to an increasingly overweight nation.

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