Supermarket giant Coles has been found guilty over its “freshly baked” bread claims.
The federal court ruled today that the supermarket misled shoppers by claiming that its bread together with a range of other baked goods were “freshly baked” or “Baked Fresh” when it had actually been par baked months earlier in factories overseas.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal proceedings against Coles in June last year, accusing the supermarket of engaging in deceptive and misleading conduct, relating to the claims on various ‘Cuisine Royale’ and ‘Coles Bakery’ branded bread products.
In his ruling, Federal Court chief justice James Allsop said that claims made by Coles amounted to a misleading representation that the par baked bread products had been baked on the day of sale or baked in a fresh process using fresh not frozen product.
“It is not the place of the court to provide advice …as to how Coles might sell bread that has been par-baked from frozen product…A start would, however, be to make it tolerably clear to the public that the recent baking was the completion of a baking process that had taken place sometime before, off site, and that “freshly baked” actually meant the completion of the baking process of frozen product prepared and frozen off site by suppliers,”said Allsop.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said that the ACCC initiated proceedings because it was concerned that Coles’ ‘Baked Today’ and ‘Freshly Baked’ claims about par baked bread were likely to mislead consumers in addition to placing independently-owned and franchised bakeries that freshly bake bread from scratch each day at a competitive disadvantage.
“Today’s decision confirms that Coles misled consumers about the baking of these bread products. Consumers should be able to rely on the accuracy of credence claims made by businesses like Coles to promote their products, especially where those claims are used to compete with smaller businesses which are genuinely offering a differentiated product,” said Sims.