Prices down down, and the tab’s on Coles

Coles said it is funding the down down and deeper down down price cuts that it has announced across its freezer aisles.

A spokesperson for the supermarket said “Coles is investing millions of dollars in lowering prices and the price cuts across the freezer are being funded by Coles.”

Coles has expanded it’s down down and deeper down down discounted range across its freezer aisles, to include an additional 100 products.

Coles has added 35 new products on the down down list, and 66 products to the deeper down down products.

Some of these include:

  • Coles Brand Frozen Corn Cobs 1kg (Aussie Grown)
  • I&J Crispy Frozen Fish Fillets 425gm
  • Streets Blue Ribbon Ice Cream 2L, multiple varieties
  • Bulla Frozen Yoghurt 1.8L, Mango & Wildberry varieties
  • Coles Brand Frozen chips 1kg (Aussie Grown)
  • Coles Brand Frozen Fruit 300-500g, multiple varieties

The Deeper Down Down campaign began in February, with the discounting of brands such as Nescafe Blend 43, Lipton Black Tea Bags and Sanitarium Weetbix.

Last year, the Australian Food and Grocery Council criticised Coles’ and Woolworths’ discounting, claiming Coles favours its own private label products in its Down Down range. Coles retaliated, arguing that branded products make up 75 percent of all products in-store.


Aldi could catch up to duopoly: USB

Aldi could almost double sales in five years, putting pressure on Coles and Woolworths, according to a report from investment bank UBS.

The report suggests that is Aldi fixes problems such as lengthy checkout queues – caused by the number of customers – out-of-stock items and the quality of its fresh food, sales could reach $13 billion.

The research is based on Aldi’s progress over the last few years and the shopping habits of more than 600 individual consumers.

Aldi could increase sales from $5.3 billion now to $9.3 billion by 2019 by opening new stores along the east coast, attracting more customers to existing stores and expanding into Western Australia and South Australia, which it plans to do by 2016, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“Aldi’s entrance into Australia has been an overwhelming success,” said UBS analyst Ben Gilbert.

Gilbert said the privately owned German chain could grow sales by at least 12 per cent a year over the next five years and have as big an impact on the Australian grocery market as ­discounters have had in the UK.

UBS estimates Aldi will take between $250 million and $350 million of annual sales from each of Woolworths, Coles and Metcash over the next five years. This will crimp same-store sales growth at the major chains by between 1.1 percent a year (Woolworths) to 1.8 percent a year (Metcash).

Gilbert said Aldi’s impact on the market would be even greater if it improved customers’ perceptions, which have deteriorated since a ­consumer survey by UBS in 2010.

The survey found that 52 per cent, or one in two shoppers, in areas where Aldi has stores have visited it over the past month.

The chain, which initially appealed to poorer consumers with a limited range of house-brand groceries and a low-price strategy, is now attracting wealthier consumers and young ­families with children, who have higher expectations.

“Aldi’s [perception] scores have ­actually declined regarding the quality of fresh foods, always in stock and fast and efficient checkouts,” Gilbert said. “These are three areas the majors, Coles and Woolworths, have invested money in because they see it as a key opportunity to differentiate.

“So there’s a big opportunity for Aldi to improve perception of fresh foods, improve checkout queue times and improve the in-stock position to drive more frequency of shop and higher spend in store.”

The UBS survey found shoppers who rated Aldi poorly spent $580 a year, those who rated them well spent $820 a year and those who rated them great spent $1900.

Asked to respond to the report, Aldi’s joint group managing director, Stefan Kopp, said UBS’s market share, sales and store numbers were “pretty much in the ball park”.

“Nine billion [dollars in sales] is achievable and slightly optimistic. I wouldn’t go beyond that,” he said. “We have 350 stores and we plan to open 25 a year for the next years. Most of those new stores will be fill-in stores and they’ll take some sales away from existing stores.”


Coles adopts RANGEme

Coles Supermarkets have adopted an online-tool in an effort to source new, innovative, local products.

RANGEme will give small and medium sized businesses a new sales opportunity for their products by giving producers direct access to Coles’ team of buyers.

Coles’ partnership with RANGEme is part of its move to increase its supply of locally-produced food and drink following research which shows that 70 per cent of customers want to buy locally-grown or made food.

Coles Head of Merchandise Support Jon Haggett said the new online initiative was an extension of Coles’ existing sourcing program to source new, innovative local products.

“We are keen to meet potential suppliers face-to-face and try to do that nationally whenever we can. However, this new online tool means that small and medium businesses have an easy and direct way to approach us with their new products,” he said.

The partnership also comes two years after Coles instigated a Meet the Buyer program, whereby Coles team of buyers visit different locations around Australia to meet with local producers who are keen to show off their products. Since the Meet the Buyer program, Coles has signed on more than 140 new local products.

For more information, click here.


Kennett to oversee Coles Supplier Charter

The former Victorian premier, Jeff Kennett, played an integral role in busting Coles for its “freshly baked” bread claims, but is now working for the supermarket.

Coles has appointed Kennett, as an independent arbiter to oversee a new Supplier Charter and help resolve commercial disputes.

Last year, Kennett got tongues wagging when he started enquiring about the origins of his bread and muffins, sending the baked goods to the ACCC and the federal court later ruled that the supermarket misled shoppers.

Coles managing director, John Durkan, said Mr Kennett will play a pivotal role in an innovative and transparent model to drive equitable outcomes in business-to-business dealings.

“Coles is committed to supporting our suppliers so they can grow their business alongside ours and continue to deliver great products for our customers,” Durkan said. “We recognise the importance of building strong, collaborative and wherever possible, long-term partnerships. We are already changing the way we do business by introducing more long-term contracts which help suppliers to plan and invest in the future.

“To underpin our commitment we have launched a new Charter which sets out what suppliers can expect when they work with Coles. It is a formal commitment to deal in good faith with our suppliers, ensuring they are always treated with respect and that our commercial dealings with them are transparent.

“A key measure to strengthen confidence is to establish a rigorous, independent third party process to resolve disputes, and to ensure Coles is held accountable.

“We are pleased that Mr Kennett has agreed to accept a part-time role as independent arbiter for the next three years. We accept he has articulated strong views about Coles’ conduct in the past, and that he will do so when and where necessary into the future. We believe his reputation as an independent voice will stand any test. 

“Mr Kennett will make recommendations directly to me on proposals to resolve disputes. Should there continue to be disagreements, Mr Kennett’s final recommendations will be binding on Coles.

“If Mr Kennett feels the need, he is free to publish his decisions or raise any concerns externally, as he sees fit, including through the media, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission and other relevant authorities.”

Kennett said he welcomed the appointment as an important opportunity to strengthen relationships across the supply chain in Australia’s vital food production and processing industries.

“I hope my services as the independent arbiter will rarely be called upon. But if there are disputes that require intervention, I can assure both and all parties of my complete independence in determining a common sense solution,” Kennett said.

The Coles Supplier Charter will govern relationships with farmers, food processors and other grocery suppliers and provide avenues for quick and equitable resolution of disputes. Coles will fund and implement the new Charter Framework.

The Charter framework will involve three complaints procedures for suppliers: referral to a dispute resolution manager via a confidential process; high-level internal review; and, recourse to the independent arbiter.  Use of the framework will be free for suppliers.

Kennett, as independent arbiter, will report annually on his activities. This may include recommendations on how to improve the Charter and Framework.

Coles will also commission an independent anonymous survey of suppliers on the workings of the new system, including any recommendations they might have for improvements.

Nothing in the framework will preclude any supplier from raising any complaint or dispute with the ACCC or under any applicable industry code.


Coles’ takeover of IGA stores under scrutiny, ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a Statement of Issues outlining potential competition concerns with the proposed acquisition of four IGA stores in Western Australia by Coles Supermarkets.

The stores are located in Brusselton, Halls Head, Bunbury Forum and Dianella, and the ACCC’s preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition may result in a substantial lessening of competition in the areas.

“Market participants have expressed concern about losing the differentiated offering of their local progressive Supa IGA store.” ACCC commissioner Dr Jill Walker said.

“The ACCC considers that the differentiated offer of the Supa IGA stores reflects a competitive response to rival supermarkets and provides additional choice to consumers.”

“The ACCC is also concerned that the proposed acquisition would remove access to Supa IGA promotions for shoppers in these areas,” said Walker.

The final decision is set to be made on 14 August, 2014 and further submissions from the market in response to the Statement of Issues can be made until 24 July.


Metcash hires former Woolworths and Coles senior executive

Metcash has hired a former Woolworths and Coles senior executive, Peter Pokorny, to improve its fresh food offer as part of a five-year transformation plan.

The plan is aimed at securing the long-term future of the wholesaler and independent grocery retailers, the Australian Financial Review reports.

In the past five years, Metcash has invested more than $100 million buying fresh food businesses, mainly fruit and vegetable wholesalers, in an attempt to create a $1 billion fresh food pillar and boost fresh sales in independent supermarkets.

However, fresh food “penetration”, or the proportion of shoppers who buy fresh food, at IGA supermarkets remains well below that of the major supermarket chains.

Metcash chief executive Ian Morrice says improving Metcash’s fresh food offer to independents is a “critical priority”.

Morrice is expected to give an update on the fresh food strategy and other turnaround plans, including a price-matching program, when he releases Metcash’s full-year results.

Working with independent store owners, Metcash plans to improve formats and space allocated to fresh food, using Romeo’s Supa IGA in Sydney’s St Ives as a benchmark.

Metcash also plans to increase its fresh specialist field force by 50 per cent over the next three to five years.


Coles found guilty over “freshly baked” bread claims

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.


Heston Blumenthal goes native with new Coles range

British celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal has graced Australian shores once again, this time to launch 15 new products under the Heston for Coles brand.

The partnership between Blumenthal and the supermarket was announced in September last year, and since then, Blumenthal has met with a host of local suppliers and manufacturers, with the aim of including as many native Australian ingredients as possible in his new Coles range.

Blumenthal, who holds multiple honorary degrees in recognition of his scientific approach to cooking, told Food Magazine that although it was exciting to experiment with Australia’s native ingredients, some are simply not cut out for the food manufacturing sector.

“We went through quite a number of varieties of bush tomato and there was one (variety) that was very astringent,” he said.

“The problem with some of the native ingredients is that they have to survive in pretty extreme conditions … So to have the ability to survive, (the ingredients) are generally going to be more bitter.”  

Although the bush tomato presented some hurdles, Blumenthal says that Australia has some of the best produce in the world to work with.

“I’ve been coming to Australia now for 12-14 years and the produce here is amazing. From the seafood obviously to the best beef in the world, and the truffles, but also the native produce."

Some of the native ingredients that Blumenthal incorporated into the Coles range includes lemon myrtle in the in the Slow Cooked Asian Pork, and Pepperberries in the Beef Sausages.

Another product in the range is the Heston Remarkable Beef Burger which earns its name from the innovative way the beef is processed.

“We’ve developed a technique during the mincing process… As the mince comes out of the machine you basically catch it and then roll it into a big sausage… then when you cut the patties, all of the fibres are running one way, so when you bite down onto the burger, it’s really quite delicate," he said.

Blumenthal also said that the range has broken new ground by developing a number of slow cooked, supermarket ready products.

“One of the many things that have excited me about this range is that I don’t think that there is any supermarket, certainly in Australia, or even the world… that has managed to slow cook a piece of meat for 30 hours sous vide, which is an amazing thing to be able to have that as part of the range."

Other products in the new range include Pork and Sage Sausages, Slow Cooked Beef Ribs with Pepperberries, Beef, Onion & Shiraz Pies, Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pies, Potato Topped Lamb & Rosemary Pies, Thyme and Lemon Roasted Chicken, together with a range of sauces.

Come September when the next Heston for Coles range will be rolled out, Blumenthal said that the inclusion of a few sweet treats are on the cards.

“We will be doing a sweet range,” he says. “We will be coming out with what I call the world’s best dunking biscuit. We did it for a show called Fantastical foods… [where] we looked at the science of dunking and tried to make a biscuit that can withstand it.”

The Heston for Coles range is now available at selected Coles stores across Australia.

Coles recalls RSPCA Approved Chicken Kiev

Coles supermarkets is recalling its Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Kiev 700g (4 pack), best before 24/05/14, 25/05/14 and 26/05/14 and purchased from Coles supermarkets in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Mildura (VIC) and Broken Hill (NSW).

The recall is due to the product containing undeclared allergens of gluten, egg, milk and soy and is due to incorrect labelling. Products with other date codes are not affected.

Customers who have purchased the Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Kiev 700g, with best before dates 24/05/14, 25/05/14 and 26/05/14, should return it to their nearest Coles supermarket for a full refund.

Customers seeking further information should contact Coles Customer Care on 1800 061 562.

Last week, Coles was fined over $30,000 for displaying food which was beyond its use-by date at its McLaren Vale supermarket in Adelaide.

The Magistrates Court was told some of the 33 items were about two weeks out of date.

Coles had recently moved to new supermarket premises in the Main Road shopping centre when council inspectors found the out-dated items, which included shaved ham and packaged salami.


Coles fined for out of date food

Coles has been fined over $30,000 for displaying food which was beyond its use-by date at its McLaren Vale supermarket in Adelaide.

The Magistrates Court was told some of the 33 items were about two weeks out of date, ABC News reports.

Coles had recently moved to new supermarket premises in the Main Road shopping centre when council inspectors found the out-dated items, which included shaved ham and packaged salami.

Magistrate David Whittle said the store's date-checking process had failed as many as three times.

Lawyers for Coles entered guilty pleas on seven counts of breaching the food code and the prosecution dropped another 15 charges.

The magistrate said there was no evidence the items had become unsafe but out-of-date food had the potential to be a risk to public health.

The court was told Coles had changed its procedures to avoid any repeat of the problem.

Coles issued a statement, which said "At Coles we take food safety seriously and our South Australian stores have had an outstanding record in this area. We set high standards and when we do not meet them we take accountability and fix the problem."

The court also ordered the retailer to pay $10,000 for Onkaparinga Council's legal costs.


Supermarket supply agreements played major role in Rosella’s collapse: Sarantinos

The receiver of Rosella has said supply agreements with Coles and Woolworths played a major role in the company’s collapse.

The Gourmet Food Group fell into receivership in 2012, less than a year after the ACCC alleges Coles began its ‘Active Retail Collaboration’ program, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The ACCC alleges that in relation to 200 of its smaller ‘tier three’ suppliers, Coles required agreement by the supplier to the rebate within a matter of days.  If these suppliers declined to agree to pay the rebate, Coles’ personnel were allegedly instructed to escalate the matter to more senior staff, and to threaten commercial consequences if the supplier did not agree.

The campaign is now part of federal court proceedings against Coles over alleged unconscionable behaviour.

Jim Sarantinos, a partner at Ferrier Hodgson, said the demand of both supermarket chains through rebates greatly contributed to Gourmet Food Group’s financial state.

''Coles and Woolworths had a target they wanted to reach in regards to private label products, which are obviously sold at a significant discount to branded products like Rosella,'' Sarantinos said.

''The problem that Rosella had was that it didn't necessarily have the financial resources to make the changes that were required to counter that move.''

Waterwheel, which was operated by the Gourmet Food Group, is one of the suppliers who were targeted for payments, according to the ACCC’s statement of claim.

A creditor’s report from 2012 says sales from Rosella's branded products fell 16 percent in 2012 ''due to retailer focus on private label products.'' The report also says that sales to major food chains were ''substantially less than budgeted'' due to major retailers ''deleting various product lines in store and delays in launching of new products and focusing on private label products.”

Sarantinos said ''The push from the supermarkets towards private labels and the negotiating power they are able to exert on suppliers certainly had an impact on Rosella's performance.''

''There were still issues in Rosella's business, and it may have been that receivership was inevitable, but [the push by the supermarkets] was certainly a big factor.''

Parts of the Gourmet Food Group’s business have since been sold off. In February last year, Waterwheel Industries was sold to Australian food manufacturer, Green's General Foods. In March 2013, Pitango was purchased by Sydney-based Beak and Johnston.

Rosella was then acquired in April 2013 by Sabrands, with manufacturing at Sabrands’ Yarra Ranges plant. Rosella’s tomato sauce is back in Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets.


Coles’ incoming boss named by ACCC

The incoming boss of Coles supermarkets, John Durkan, has been named in documents as playing a key role in allegedly mistreating Coles suppliers.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Wesfarmers was refusing to comment on the future of Durkan late on Monday, and seems to be standing by him.

Coles may be facing fines up to $200 million in the claim lodged by the ACCC with the federal court, where Durkan is placed at the centre of an ''orchestrated and organised'' campaign to pump up Coles pre-tax earnings by as much as $30 million.

The campaign allegedly demanded payments from tier 3 suppliers as a rebate for the supermarket group improving its supply chain.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the extent of the demands and alleged unconscionable conduct by Coles surprised even him.

''I think it's fair to say the allegations we have made amount to more than we thought we would find,'' Sims said on Monday.

''We have very much treated this as being an organised and orchestrated campaign by Coles.''

It is alleged Durkan, who will take the reins in July, approved a plan to demand payments from 200 suppliers as part of Coles' Active Retail Collaboration program in 2011.

The ACCC claims in its court documents that Durkan had no reasonable basis for telling suppliers the rebates reflected the value of the supply chain changes. In fact no details on how the payment figure was reached were provided.


ACCC takes action against Coles for alleged unconscionable conduct

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Coles alleging that the supermarket giant broke Australian Consumer Law in conduct in relation to its Active Retail Collaboration (ACR) program.

The ACR program was developed by Coles in 2011 to improve earnings by obtaining better trading terms from its suppliers. It’s alleged one of the ways Coles sought to improve earnings was through the introduction of ongoing rebates to be paid by its suppliers in connection with the Coles ARC program, based on purported benefits to large and small suppliers that Coles asserted had resulted from changes Coles had made to its supply chain.

The ACCC alleges that in relation to 200 of its smaller suppliers, Coles required agreement by the supplier to the rebate within a matter of days.  If these suppliers declined to agree to pay the rebate, Coles personnel were allegedly instructed to escalate the matter to more senior staff, and to threaten commercial consequences if the supplier did not agree.  The ACCC alleges that, in a number of cases, threats were made when suppliers declined to agree to pay the rebate.

The ACCC alleges that Coles took part in the following conduct:

  • Providing misleading information to suppliers about the savings and value to them from the changes Coles had made;
  • Using undue influence and unfair tactics against suppliers to obtain payments of the rebate;
  • Taking advantage of its superior bargaining position by, amongst other things, seeking payments when it had no legitimate basis for seeking them; and
  • Requiring those suppliers to agree to the ongoing ARC rebate without providing them with sufficient time to assess the value, if any, of the purported benefits of the ARC program to their small business.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said “the conduct of Coles alleged by the ACCC in these proceedings was capable of causing significant detriment to small suppliers’ businesses. This could have resulted in these businesses becoming less able to plan and less able to innovate in the market, with resulting reduced economic efficiency and consumer detriment.”

The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, injunctions and costs.

These proceedings arise from a broader continuing investigation by the ACCC into allegations that supermarket suppliers were being treated inappropriately by the major supermarket chains.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) welcomed the announcement of the proceedings.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson said the proceedings involve very serious matters in relation to retailer dealings with food and grocery suppliers that have been hanging over the industry for years.

“It is important that these allegations be tested in court because they go to the heart of whether we have a properly functioning food and grocery market in Australia under the current market power imbalance,” Dawson said.

“Consumer interest is best served by a properly functioning competitive market and the ACCC has a key role in ensuring fair and effective competition across the supply chain.”

“Today’s announcement underlines the importance of an effective Industry Code of Conduct which will deliver more contractual certainty, encourage better sharing of risk and provide a practical dispute resolution mechanism without excessive regulation or compliance costs.”

“It also underlines the significance of the current Competition Law Review which will examine the impact of vertical integration and market power in key industry sectors, including supermarket retailing,” Dawson said.

In a statement Coles says it will vigorously defend the allegations, ABC Rural reports.

Coles said it's committed to negotiating fairly and working collaboratively with its suppliers, to help them grow. The supermarket said it's building strong relationships with its supplier partners "to grow a resilient and competitive grocery manufacturing industry in Australia."

In April, Coles published corrective advertisements on media platforms after the ‘Our Coles Brand Milk Story’ video stated that the farmgate milk price had increased to 90 cents when they had in fact decreased to 84 cents.

The corrections were published after the ACCC accepted an enforceable undertaking on the matter.

Coles admitted that its actions would be likely to have contravened section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law, (which prohibits misleading or deceptive conduct). 


Woolworths has overtaken Coles in sales growth

Third quarter earnings for Woolworths rose 4.4 percent compared to the same period last year to a total of $10.38 billion, when Coles only had a 3.9 percent rise in food and liquor sales.

When stores opened within the past year are excluded, sales growth is neck and neck, ABC News reports.

Woolworth’s chief executive Grant O'Brien said the business' momentum was clear in these results. "This is evidenced through market share growth and demonstrates the success of the work undertaken to deliver our first strategic priority 'to extend our leadership in food and liquor', with fresh sales and market share growing faster than grocery," he said.

But not everyone was impressed by Woolworths’ growth, with shares in the supermarket dropping 3 percent after the release of the March-quarter sales result, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Simotas said Woolworths shares had run up strongly in the lead-up to the sales report, gaining 8 per cent in the past month alone.

''Woolworths was only marginally short of [market forecasts] and some of the expectations out there were fairly high,'' Simotas said.

Woolworths doesn’t expect its sales to be slowed down by the looming tough federal budget, despite warnings from retail groups and economists of a possible hit to consumer sentiment.

According to The Mercury, O’Brien doesn’t expect the budget to affect consumer behaviour.  "Generally you can set your clock by a new government coming in and having a tough budget," he said. "So I don't see any great surprises and I don't see any great change in consumer behaviour as a result."

O’Brien said the retailer had been dealing with subdued consumer confidence for several years but expected sentiment to improve as memories of the global financial crisis fade.

Coles does not seem worried about the budget either, with Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder saying on Tuesday that the company’s retail business is well positioned to withstand a slide in confidence.

"In a sense that's an opportunity for us, I think it plays into our strength, which is providing great value for our customers," Goyder said. "One of the things that attracted us to Coles was the fact that through different phases of an economic cycle the food business is pretty resilient."


Coles issues recall for undeclared allergen in gluten free cereal

Supermarket giant Coles is recalling its Coles brand Simply GlutenFree Nut Free Cereal (325g, Best Before 24/2/15) at all of its Coles and BI-LO stores throughout Australia due to an undeclared allergen.

The product has been identified as containing tree nuts (almonds) and Coles has said that people with either an intolerance or allergy to tree nuts should not use the product and return it to the point of purchase for a full refund.

Coles is said to be working with the manufacturer to understand how the undeclared allergen got into the product in the first place, and are said to be taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The cereal recall makes the second time in a week that Coles have issued a recall for undeclared tree nuts. Coles issued a recall for a Coles brand Easter Egg product which is manufactured by Heritage Chocolates last week after a child experienced a mild allergic reaction due to the presence of tree nuts.


Coles Easter Eggs recall after undeclared tree nuts found

Undeclared tree nuts have been found in Coles Easter Eggs (12 pack in plastic egg crate with various coloured foils), leading Coles Supermarkets to issue an Australia-wide recall of the product.

The recall was issued after a child experienced a mild allergic reaction on Monday, and Coles and Anaphylaxis Australia were immediately notified.

Yesterday Coles withdrew the product from sale, and issued a tree nut alert for the batch with a best before of 31 January, 2015.

It’s not the first recall from the company responsible, Heritage chocolates.

In April 2012, Heritage recalled Heritage Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg with Exquisite Chocolate Truffles from Coles Supermarkets nationally due to undeclared almond, hazelnut and gluten allergens.

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia has urged that the tree nut alert be shared with preschools and schools who may have purchased the product for Easter egg hunts.


Coles in court accused of selling out-of-date food

A South Australian council is accusing supermarket giant, Coles, of 22 breaches of Australian food standards, after an investigation uncovered it was offering out-of-date, sometimes mouldy, food.

Lawyers for Coles were in court yesterday after an investigation by City of Onkaparinga found more than 17kg of out-of-date meat, pasta, dips and fruit, some of which was mouldy, was for sale at its McLanre Vale outlet.

According to AdelaideNow, the breaches were discovered on 4 April, but the case has been put off until next month after lawyers for both Coles and the City of Onkaparinga asked for the case to be adjourned to allow for negotiations.

The products involved in the case include:

  • Eight 125g packets of Moira Mac's Australian chicken breast slices with a 1 April use-by date.
  • Five 300g packets of Primo diced bacon-style pieces with a 29 March use-by date.
  • Eight 150g containers of Wattle Valley Chunky Dips baby spinach with cashew and parmesan with a 23 March use-by date.
  • Six 200g containers of Yumis Authentic Hommus Toppers marinated eggplant and za'atar with a 25 March use-by date.
  • Eight 150g containers of Wattle Valley Chunky Dips basil with cashew and parmesan with a 26 March use-by date.
  • Multiple containers of Pronoto E Fresco Aussie Mix "which were labelled in a manner that was likely to mislead or deceive."


Coles pushes up Wesfarmers profits

Wesfarmers has reported a six percent rise in full year net profit, thanks, in part, to its supermarket chain, Coles.

The company posted net profit of $2.26 billion in the 12 months to June, up from $2.13 billion the previous year.

It's also announced a $579 million capital return to shareholders, prompting a 1.8 percent rise in shares to $42.72, SMH reports.

The profit rise  is short of analysts' forecasts, who had expected a rise of 7.6 percent.

Wesfarmers' supermarket chain, Coles, represents 40 percent of its total earnings and experiencing a rise of 11.4 percent in food and liquor earnings before interest and tax, to $1.37 billion.

Coles' key competitor, Woolworths, reported a 4.3 percent rise in fourth quarter total group sales year-on-year.

Both supermarket chains have engaged in strong price cutting strategies this year, Coles with its Down Down campaign and Woolworths counter-attacking with its Every Day Value discounts.


Coles creates superhero for Unreal Deals campaign [video]

Adding to its Down Down campaign, supermarket giant Coles has launched a new “Unreal Deals” promotion, featuring a new superhero character called Col.

This morning the supermarket chain put a “teaser” news-style 30-second clip on its YouTube channel previewing Col, using clips from the new TVC.

The new 30 second spot set to air tonight features the red-and-yellow lycra suited superhero running around a store offering “unreal deals”.

A voiceover proclaims: “Meet Col, a regular guy with unreal powers. He can slash prices at the point of a finger. He doesn’t do it for fame or fortune, he does it to help Australian save lots of money.”

They have also produced this infographic showing how you can make your own Col costume.

The new "Unreal Deals" campaign is in addition to Coles controversial Down Down campaign, which the Australian Food and Grocery Council claims limits the product range available to consumers as Coles favours its own private-label brands over indepedent brands.

Recent Roy Morgan research also raised questions on the effectiveness of such campaigns, with only 45 percent of Coles customers believing the supermarket has low prices.

Fellow supermarket chain, IGA, launched a similar TV campaign recently, and while it doesn't feature a lycra-clad superhero, it does feature an animated lock, Lockie.



Woolies gives thumbs up to Thankyou

Both Woolworths and Coles have agreed to stock Thankyou products following an intensive social media based marketing campaign.

Coles agreed to stock the brand's bottled water, food and body care lines earlier this week, and following a meeting yesterday afternoon, Woolworths has now signed up to sell Thankyou water and some of its food products.

Thankyou is a social enterprise which donates profits (once business costs are taken care of) to funding water, food and hygiene projects in developing nations.

Thankyou co-founder and MD, Daniel Flynn, said "By bringing the Thankyou range to the 19.5 million customers that pass through Woolies every week, we will be able to make a massive difference for people throughout Asia and Africa, who are in desperate need of safe drinking water, food and hygiene education.

"We're absolutely thrilled and, to be honest, a little amazed at much support we have received from the Australian public in recent weeks."

The two week campaign urging the supermarket duopoly to stock Thankyou's products saw two helicopters, each carrying a 30x30m banner, fly over both Coles' Melbourne headquarters and Woolworths Sydney headquarters.

Over 15 million people were reached through social media, online traffic and traditional media including thousands of posts and videos on both Coles’ and Woolworths’ Facebook walls from Thankyou fans and celebrities such as Jules Lund, Chrissie Swan, Andrew Gaze, Rebecca Morse, Peter Helliar, Nicole Livingstone and Tim Costello.