WAFarmers Dairy Council is very pleased with the ACCC findings stating the ‘Our Coles Brand Milk Story’ video and cartoon are likely to have contravened Section 18 of the Australian Competition Law which prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct.
The Dairy Council was disappointed with Coles’ action to mislead consumers with opinion and estimates which they stated as fact but were unable to be substantiated.
The Council has held numerous meetings with Coles’ senior management, sharing with them the realities of how the $1/L campaign has negatively impacted the Western Australian dairy industry. Additionally, the Dairy Council worked with external consultants to produce the Sustainable Milk Price Report to provide Coles with factual evidence to support our claims.
The Dairy Council also provided evidence with another external consultants report (Impact of the $1.00 per litre private label milk pricing on the West Australian Dairy Industry Value Chain by Steve Hossen) which highlighted the impact and the value which was removed from dairy supply chain – $25.2 million per year.
Representatives from the Council are involved at the national dairy lobby level, which ensured Australian Dairy Farmers responded to the council’s concerns along with other state dairy farming organisations and took action issuing a formal complaint to the ACCC.
The Coles video and cartoon ran from 7 February 2013 to 5 May 2013 on a variety of platforms including YouTube, Coles’ website and Facebook page, and was promoted in links from Twitter and other social media. Coles published the video and cartoon during a time of intense public debate about the impact of $1 milk on Australian dairy farmers who supplied the product. The Dairy Council contributed to the debate and media pressure by being involved in numerous media stories highlighting the negative impact, which Coles sought to reply to by releasing the video.
The WAFarmers Dairy Council will continue to monitor Coles to ensure it complies with the ACCC’s undertaking to which requires Coles to:
- for a period of three years, not make misleading or deceptive representations in relation to the impact of reductions in the retail price for Coles brand milk on the farmgate milk price, Coles’ or processor margins on Coles brand milk, and/ or Australian milk production generally; and
- review its Australian Consumer Law compliance program as it relates to the application of section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law to advertising and promotional strategies relating to Coles brand milk, including social media, and to identify specific compliance processes and training for employees of the Coles Media Relations Team to ensure the conduct of concern to the ACCC does not occur again.
The Council will continue to engage with the retail sector to ensure the dairy farmers members concerns are bought to their attention.
Coles’ retraction video can be viewed here.