Coles “fresh apple” claims misleading

Coles is in “fresh” trouble over pink lady apples that were picked in April, but advertised as “Spring fruit”.

A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Board over a “Feed Your Family Better” advertisement, where Curtis Stone makes reference to the Tasmanian grown apples being fresh at Coles right now and says “feed your family better, fresher, with spring fruit and veg from Coles…”

The complaint to the Board said “This is wrong and not possible, I live in Tassie and my apple tree is dormant! These apples would have been in storage for MONTHS, they are not fresh.”

Coles decided not to re-publish or re-broadcast the particular advertisement, but argued the advertisement is not misleading or in breach of the AANA Food and Beverages Code.

Despite being harvested in April, Coles maintains that the apples were fresh.

The apples were placed in a controlled low temperature and reduced oxygen (not frozen) environment, which the supermarket said preserves their freshness.

In its response to the complaint, Coles said it “considers apples can remain fresh, even if placed in cold storage. ‘Freshness’ is determined with regard to the quality of the produce, not whether it has been stored or not
“Coles’ view that produce can remain “fresh” despite storage is consistent with the Macquarie Dictionary, which defines ‘fresh’ as retaining the original properties unimpaired; not deteriorated; not canned or frozen; not preserved by pickling, salting, drying, etc”

The supermarket cited its decision to place the fruit in cold storage facilities as a way to avoid sourcing apples from outside Australia to fulfil demand and “support local growers by only selling in Coles stores Australian apples grown by local growers.”

But it was not the use of the word “fresh” that got Coles into trouble this time, rather, the mention of “Spring fruit”

The board considered “it is common practice for food bought in its natural state to be described as fresh and that the use of the word ‘fresh’ in relation to apples is not of itself misleading or designed to be misleading.”

The Board said “in the current advertisement there is a reference to ‘Spring’ fruit and considered that these additional references to Spring change the context of the word ‘fresh’ to imply that the advertised apples are Spring fruit and have been freshly picked during the Spring season ready for immediate sale.

“The Advertiser’s response that apples are generally harvested in Australia during autumn and considered that the average consumer would be used to seeing apples available in supermarkets all year round and may not be aware of this fact.

“The Board considered that the likely interpretation of the advertisement by the average consumer would be that the Tasmanian apples being promoted as fresh this Spring would have been freshly picked in recent weeks and not over 3 months ago.”

In September, Coles was banned from advertising that its bread was made, or baked on the day that it’s sold for three years, following an ACCC investigation.

The federal court ruled in June 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.



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