Coles milk pricing argument sours on social media

  • February 7, 2013
  • Kate Carey

Coles has defended its position on its low-priced milk with the launch of a new video via Facebook and Twitter today.

The video aims to inform Coles customers of information that is “often overlooked” when reporting the ongoing debate between farmers and Coles over its low-priced milk.

According to Coles in its new video, only 25 per cent of all milk produced in Australia is used for Australian drinking, with the rest exported or used in the production of other dairy products. Further, 4 per cent of the 25 per cent of milk produced for Australian drinking becomes Coles brand milk.

Coles has said that while farmers claim that they are not receiving enough money from the low-priced milk, the store has also taken a “huge cut” in the profits they earn on each bottle sold – with dairy processing companies earning around the same price as they were two years ago when Coles first cut its milk prices.

However, the video has not had the intended effect on all Coles consumers with many taking to the company Facebook page to call them “spin doctors.”

“What is that 4% of figure??..homebrand products make up a much greater number than that..The other thing is why do you feel you need to promote this..Coles…Please be realistic..[sic]” one reader wrote on Coles’ Facebook page.

Coles then responded that it is “wrong to blame Coles” for “higher input costs, the high dollar, and the weaker export market” causing problems.

“As our video shows we do not buy milk directly from farmers and our drinking milk accounts for just 4% of total milk production in Australia. But despite this, we still wanted to make sure that farmers were protected so we fully absorbed the lower retail price by reducing our margin and paying processors more,” a Coles media spokesperson replied on the Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Coles Head of Communications Jon Church remains hopeful that Coles customers will be “interested to hear” the information.

“We know that lower retail prices have helped Australian families save money but we are often asked by customers what this means for Australian dairy farmers. So we wanted to provide clear information in a way which is engaging and easy to understand,” Mr Church said.

The social media campaign follows a Coles announcement earlier this year that “suppliers would benefit from the latest round of price cuts” as part of the ongoing “Down, Down” campaign.

An image from Coles new campaign to defend its milk prices.


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3 Responses to “Coles milk pricing argument sours on social media”

  1. graham and chris duncan on February 7th, 2013 9:01 pm

    Hi, Us dairy farmers need to make some money!!
    We were getting 59 cents per litre for our milk prior to deregulation,
    almost 13 years ago.
    We now receive 52 cents a litre in 2013.
    This makes no sense.
    Coles, Woolies and the milk factories, need to have a hard look at themselves.
    Why are we all still in this business?
    I guess, we keep thinking, prices will improve.
    We are all working smarter +++.
    What else do we do?

  2. Pamela Jarmey on February 10th, 2013 6:46 pm

    We are dairy farmers who are not being paid what it costs to produce milk. It is not acceptable to keep paying farmers less than the cost of production. Coles and Woolworths absolutely have the power to turn around the fate of Australian farmers and should stick their necks out and do so. You have such huge marketing power and you know it. If you wanted to you could ensure a decent future for Australian dairy farmers and whole milk consumers alike. Think about what a positive difference you could make for all involved not to mention the favourable press you could achieve for yourselves. It would be much better than the hate and greed image you have at the moment. My parents have just lost everything in the major flooding at Mundubbera and they run a 400 cow dairy there. Without a decent and stable milk price of at least 70c per litre on farm they will not be re-opening their farm and will be leaving the industry at age 72 with nothing after at least 40 years in dairying. Surely that tells you something is wrong. You guys do have the power to change it and instead you continue to help drive the nail into the coffin of many Australian farmers. Thanks for nothing

  3. Vahan Stepanyan on February 11th, 2013 2:46 pm

    I think, it is now a good time for farmers to develop smal local processing units and initiate farmers weekends markets in cities. This will help them to sell their fresh products directly to consumers (and make further contacts with consumers and, who knows, in future to delived milk to them every day) – freshly country made milk, sourcream, cheese, butter… farmers can joint to cooperatives to purchase a processing units and organise products delivery to bigger cities…I think it is a good idea