The ACCC rapped Coles over its Coles brand milk story video

The ACCC rapped Coles over its Coles brand milk story video

Coles has admitted its part in a milk campaign criticised by the Australian competition watchdog customers but insisted the "key message" behind the push was "correct".

The food retailer was reprimanded by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for its "our Coles brand milk story", published as part of a social media campaign run between February and May last year - a period of "intense public debate about the impact of A$1 (US$0.93) milk on Australian dairy farmers who supplied the product", the watchdog said.

The campaign claimed Coles would absorb the profit loss and pay out a higher share to farmers. The ACCC's investigation followed complaints from dairy farmers about representations in the cartoon and video about the impact of Coles' move to cut prices in 2011.

"Coles represented in a video and cartoon on social media that the farmgate milk price increased from 86 cents per two-litre bottle of Coles-brand milk in 2010-11 to around 90 cents in 2011-12, when in fact this was an estimate and final industry figures showed the 2011-12 farmgate milk price actually decreased to 84 cents," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

In correspondence to just-food yesterday (8 April), a spokesperson for Coles said: "Importantly the key message in the video was correct: Coles funded at least the majority of the price cuts on Coles brand milk".

However, Coles noted the ACCC's concerns the campaign may have misled its customers into buying Coles brand milk.

"We acknowledge we could have done more to validate some of the statements made. That's why we have signed the undertaking," said the spokesperson.