Coles under fire for clamping down on milk war 'noise'

Coles has come under fire for a marketing presentation that refers to a tactic to 'neutralise noise' in the supermarket milk wars.



Coles has come under fire for a marketing presentation that refers to a tactic to "neutralise noise" in the supermarket milk wars.

Chief Executive Ian McLeod, , downplayed claims Coles aimed to clamp down on dairy farmer organisations upset with the chain over their lowered prices.

"Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?" he said, later adding: "Well, because it doesn't necessarily suit them. You know, I can't talk for the dairy industry overall."

Dairy farmer associations have repeatedly accused Coles of undermining milk farmers by lowering the price of their own-brand milk to $1 a litre, a price they say is "unsustainable" and forces customers away from more expensive brands.

The Observer Effect, which airs on SBS, uncovered a marketing powerpoint document by Coles' head of corporate affairs, Robert Hadler.

Part of the presentation read: "We use every PR tactic possible to neutralise noise".

Ms Fanning also pointed out to the Coles CEO another slide within the document that referred to "inevitable farmer protests".

"Again, doesn't that suggest the attitude inside Coles that there's noise that needs to be neutralised and then there are these inevitable farmer protests and they just need to get out of the way?" she asked.

Mr McLeod replied: "That's not the case. You know, I can understand completely the farmers feel entitled to air a voice of concern."

"You don't like to have people believing that you're doing the wrong thing which is why we're trying to make sure that people recognise that we do the right thing," he added.

"We are always going to have conflicts."


2 min read
Published 30 September 2013 at 12:40pm
Source: SBS