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New Zealand grocery chain to introduce facial recognition tech

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Foodstuffs North Island, a cooperative of over 300 grocery stores, announced that it will be testing facial recognition technology at several stores.

Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin cited data that showed that since 2020, there has been a 246% increase in serious incidents at grocery stores, including assault, robbery, theft, and other aggressive, threatening, and violent behavior.

“Supermarkets are on the frontline of the rising trend of retail crime with our teams dealing with daily incidents of assault, aggression and theft,” Quin said. “Facial recognition technology is one of the only tools we’ve identified that could help us to proactively target and reduce theft, burglary, robbery, assault, and other aggressive, violent or threatening behavior by repeat offenders.”

Data showed that 25% of incidents involve repeat offenders.

“This is where facial recognition technology could help,” said Quin. “It may be able to sit alongside all our other security and safety initiatives, helping to proactively identify anyone who should not be in the store, or who is a known accomplice of an offender.”

Foodstuffs North Island will deploy the technology in 29 stores. Once the results of the trial have been analyzed, they will decide on whether to deploy the technology to other stores.

The cooperative has consulted with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand on biometrics, face scanning, and data collection standards in an effort to address security and privacy concerns.

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