The Shopping Cart Cartel: IGA Stores

In Anchor, Choysa Tea, Creemee Icecream, Davids Metcash Trading Limited, Fielder's Cornflour, Gregg's, IGA Stores, Independent Grocers Alliance NZ Ltd, Kornies cereal, O-Tis oatmeal, Oak, Palm corned beef, Red Band Biscottes, Shreddo cooking suet, St. George, Suntang Tea, Vita-Brits cereal on June 10, 2012 at 10.46

IGA, which stood for Independent Grocers Alliance (NZ Ltd), launched in the Antipodes in 1955. Originally, it was an American concept founded in 1926. IGA was started when a group of 100 independent retailers in Poughkeepsie, New York, and Sharon, Connecticut, led by J. Frank Grimes, organized themselves into a single marketing system. This group quickly expanded, and by the end of the year there were more than 150 IGA retailers in the U.S. In 1930 there were over 8,000 grocery stores using the IGA name. Today IGA is still the world’s largest voluntary supermarket chain with over 4,000 independent stores in 41 different countries.

IGA, Glen Innes. Constructed by The Fletcher Construction Company 1959, Courtesy of the Fletcher Trust Archives, 19599078P-35


IGA was brought to Australia by Davids Holdings in the late 1980s when 10 stores initially became members of IGA. This company is now known as Metcash Trading Limited, which has the rights to use the IGA name in four Aussie states as well as New Zealand – for the wholesale distribution of goods to all IGA stores.

Not much else is known about the history of the original IGA in New Zealand – although it appears that the concept entirely bypassed Australia and made its way straight there.

 Recreation of a  paper grocery bag design from a Dunedin IGA, apparently phased out some time in the 1960s.


Jacqueline Crompton Ottaway writes an interesting story here about her grandfather’s Freeman’s Bay store from the 1950s-1970s:


Although, it doesn’t mention any brands per se, excepting Palm corned beef.

IGA board game circa early 1960s.


IGA seemed to be around until the mid 1970s as promotional tea towels festooned with their wares attest (IGA, like Four Square, had a number of promotional items like calendars, games, and the aforementioned kitchen helpers) . The last reference I can find is a Dunsandel, Canterbury IGA store operating in 1974.

IGA advertisement, circa late 1960s


Some of my recent Trade Me purchases of the last year or so which I have featured here include this board game with a neat ad for their self brand of tea “Suntang“. I’d never heard of it until I saw this (or Instant Toddy for that matter – and I still don’t know who was responsible for manufacturing it, perhaps like Suntang it was an IGA self product, but usually chains stuck to the household basics for their own brands; tea, cornflour, soap, jelly crystals, baking powder, butter, custard, etc ). Also featured are some of their most popular products including Gregg’s, St George, Choysa and Anchor – as well as Red Band biscottes which I wrote about here previously


I’d date this item at around 1961.

IGA advertisement, circa late 1960s


Today IGA in New Zealand stands for Independent Grocers Australia. The Ocker version launched in 1988 – Much like Peter’s Ice cream which was popular in the 1930s and didn’t reappear in the land of the long white cloud until the 1990s – IGA returned in time as a completely new version.

Frontage of E.G. Roberts’  IGA grocery store, Himenoa Street, Birkenhead. Courtesy of Auckland Council, Local History Online, Image ID T7554.


Interior of E.G. Roberts’ IGA grocery store, Himenoa Street, Birkenhead. Courtesy of Auckland Council, North Shore History Online and Takapuna Library, Image ID T7557. Both images are dated as 1952, although this cannot be possible since IGA was not introduced to the country until three years after that.



Addendum September 2012: Somehow I missed a bunch of material whilst researching my IGA story which would have told me, as it turns out, that IGA was launched in New Zealand under by G.U.S. Wholesaling (G.U.S, UNA, and Target brands) and later re-branded to SuperValue amongst other banners. See the article here: 



  1. Hi, I’ve been subscribing to your blog now for about three months and can appreciate the amount of effort that goes into your researching and recreating of the various labels you do. Not to mention the collecting and finding all these things to begin with, and then creating the blog entries with all the various links. Thank you, nice to get a glimpse into the past in NZ. Maybe it somehow seems to magnify where we are now. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Tony! That’s obsession for you. I can’t think of any other reason why I do it. It is a hobby in the truest sense, in that it doesn’t serve any “real” purpose except my own enjoyment. Glad some other people appreciate it.

  3. My husband used to work at the New Windsor store (IGA) in 1971-but he lived opposite since 1956-Butcher owned by George Thorrington,Norm Garret was the grocer….they developed it into this combo-one of the first NZ minimarts!-also had a fruit and veggie dept-very forward thinking!!Blue Mclennan-coach of the Warriors,and was the Kiwi coach,his mother was the delivery girl-as you can see,my hubby is the local archivist(in his own mind)

  4. Thanks Clare for the information!

  5. Hi – I have been reading through from the beginning of your blog over the last week or so (came here from Timespanner) and finally have something to contribute regarding the IGA stores. I think some of the more rural ones persisted with the IGA banner – certainly our local store was an IGA, and it remained one through until the early 1980’s (it has subsequently closed as a store and become a lolly shop). This is in Te Kopuru, in the upper reaches of the Kaipara Harbour (just south of Dargaville). The dairy owner took over his dairy in the early 1980’s and reports: “The writer came to Te Kopuru in the early 80’s as joint owner with his wife of the local dairy, even at that late stage a number of commercial enterprises still traded, all but two have now gone. As well as the dairy there was a Four Square and IGA store, a service station, a pie shop very succesfully trading throughout the district and beyond, a general workshop catering mainly for the rural and farming industry plus of course a post office.”http://www.te-kopuru.co.nz/History.cfm

  6. Thanks for the information Barry. Again it just amazes me that there is such a lack of information on enterprises, that were not only big then, but still huge now. Companies like ETA, Tip-Top, Four Square…the list goes on – have a limited company history that has been shaped to their PR needs more than fact, and often incomplete or even wrong. I s’pose that’s where I come in…

  7. OMG! Talk about a flash back to the past! I attended the New Windsor Primary School from ’68-’78 and walked past the New Windsor IGA every day. I remember shopping in there with my mum. Good Times!
    Warren Diprose
    Victoria, Texas USA

  8. Thanks for your comment, Warren. I love to give other people “flashbacks” besides just myself!

  9. What is a swap em with coupons and how does it work? Has there been something like that here in Australia? Regards Madonna Weaver

  10. The corner store in Waikuku (about 35 km north of Christchurch, and now a petrol station) which I remember as the Waikuku Supply Store, rebranded as an IGA Super Discounter in the early or mid 1970s. A sort of imitation supermarket I think.

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