Retail and Marketing

David Littleproud attacks Coles over milk. Too little, too late

Coles sign on side of store

MP David Littleproud attacked grocery giant, Coles for not passing extra A$0.10 from their milk on to farmers. This has triggered an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry.

Apparently, Coles have finally buckled, donating an extra A$5million to farmers.

Why has anyone only spoken up now?

Coles and the other grocer mammoth, Woolworths were in a longstanding war over grocery prices.

Woolworths entrance
Woolworths has been part of the ‘price wars’ since 2011, resulting in them quashing competitors.

This started in 2011. Both supermarkets offered low prices and started a home brand that has covered a wide range of items.

The “down down” prices have proven to be sinister.  A number of smaller, independent grocers couldn’t compete went out of business.

Coles and Woolworths were accused of quashing small businesses in rural and regional areas.

To add insult to injury, last month, the price wars ended. Prices rose again. Everyone has lost out instead of Coles and Woolworths.


Yet, to my knowledge only recently has any MP publicly spoken out against Coles and/ or Woolworths. What took them so long? Is it just save face and make itlook like they’re doing something for the farmers after the disastrous Murray Basin plan?

Aldi: a saviour?

However, it’s not all bad news. Coles and Woolworths do have a competitor – German supermarket, Aldi.

They first opened stores in Australia in 2001.

Since then, Aldi has had its hits and misses. Many people like their prices, not just for groceries, but also household appliances like Dyson vacuum cleaners, which are cheaper than in other stores.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t bring back any small businesses in rural towns that have collapsed.



I think the Federal Government has really shot themselves in the foot over the grocer wars. Put simply, Coles and Woolworths are too big. Criticising them now is pointless.


Coles and Woolworths have proven to have no regard for the ‘little guy’. They’ve been able to bully their way to dominating a major part of the retail sector.

If they had no regard for the independent businesses, then why would they care for farmers? Unless it tarnishes their image (and threatens their bottom line).

U.timately, the CEOs of Coles and Woolworths only about one thing, and that”s profit.


Retail and Marketing

It’s been six months since the ‘single – use’ plastic bag ban at Coles and Woolworths

Woolworths material ba
It’s been six months since Cooles and Woolworths introduced a ‘ban’ on traditional plastic shopping bags, instead introducing thicker plastic or material bags

Maybe Coles and Woolworths were on to something.

Despite the initial backlash against grocery store monopolies for their decision to ban ‘single use ‘ plastic shopping bags, women’s site Mamamia reported that around 1.5 billion less plastic bags have become waste.

Also, the National Retail Association also confirms that other major retailers have started to follow suit. I know that Big W have had both thicker plastic and material (nylon?) bags on sale for a while.

I haven’t been against the move by Coles and Woolworths in introducing the material/ thicker plastic bags. But I do think the way they went about it was bad PR. Due to public anger, both Coles and Woolworths have made concessions. Woolworths had their bags free for a limited time. Coles backtracked completely and reintroduced the plastic bags. Then they backflipped…again.

Even after that, to save their image, Woolworths claims that all proceeds made from the bags (A$1.00 for the material and A$0.15) are donated to environmental and education charities.

Reactions to the change

There have been mixed reactions about the changes from both members of the public and the media.

While many have praised Coles and Woolworths for trying to phase out thin plastic bags, there have been plenty of criticism as well. Some reactions  against it have been arguably exaggerated. Gay Alcorn from The Guardian Australia pointed out flaws in the San Francisco study that claimed that people died of food poisoning due to dirty material bags. The study was not peer reviewed and has been dismissed by PolitiFact.

Personally, I’ve never had any problem. Generally, I take one bag for shopping and nothing has been spilled or broken. In regard to meat, raw fish and chicken — food that can produce e – coli — I make sure that I have a cool bag with me. That seems to work well.

I’m not against the move, but I do find it ironic that mini plastic bags are still used to buy fruit and vegetables. I can’t see why they couldn’t have found another (possibly free), alternative for that. Plus, not having fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic would be good too.

Any other alternatives to plastic bags? Yes. Paper bags. They can be useful to use as bins too, so there’s less need for home bins that need liners.

I’m actually surprised about the impact that the changes in bag policies at Coles and Woolworths have made (or tried to implement). Now, let the  war on plastic straws begin. And plastic bin liners. And… fill in the blank.

What do you think abouut the move that Coles and Woolworths ban? Let me know what youu think in the comments below.