Responsible
sourcing

Certified products and ingredients

Coles is committed to using independent and internationally recognised certification programs for our own brand tea and coffee, and where cocoa and palm oil are used as an ingredient in Coles Own Brand products. These programs support ethical practices and environmental protection in these supply chains.

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Animal welfare

Coles cares about how our food is produced and sourced and we are committed to working towards a sustainable future that supports local farmers and food producers, while also looking after the welfare of animals. Coles’ vision is to ‘become the most trusted retailer in Australia and grow long-term shareholder value’, and we believe that protecting and improving the welfare of animals in our supply chains is central to gaining and maintaining customer trust.

Our Animal Welfare PolicyOpens in new window, is based around the five freedoms:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  • Freedom from discomfort;
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease;
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour;
  • Freedom from fear and distress.

This policy sets out our expectations regarding the treatment of animals and aquaculture species in the meat, fresh produce and grocery product global supply chains for all Coles Own Brand products and also specifies that no Coles Own Brand products are to be tested on animals.

We are proud to be the first major Australian supermarket to deliver:

  • All own brand fresh beef with no added hormones (since 2011)
  • All own brand shell eggs cage-free (since 2013)
  • All own brand fresh pork sow stall-free and produced without artificial growth promotants (since 2014)
  • All own brand fresh chicken RSPCA Approved (since 2014)
  • All own brand fresh turkey RSPCA Approved (since 2014)
  • All own brand fresh free-range pork RSPCA Approved (2015)
  • All own brand fresh free-range chicken RSPCA Approved (2018)
  • All own brand seafood sustainably sourced (2015)

Our Animal Welfare policy objectives are assessed through regular audits of food manufacturing sites, certification to farm assurance standards and the auditing of farms against our Coles Farm Program requirements. These results are reported via the Quality and Responsible Sourcing teams to commercial and senior management. In addition to this, all our partner abattoirs are independently audited by the industry certification body AusMeat; to the Animal Welfare Certification System (AAWCS); or international equivalent.

The day to day management of animal welfare standards, management and monitoring at Coles is managed by the Responsible Sourcing Manager – Agriculture. Any animal welfare concerns should be escalated to the Responsible Sourcing Manager – Agriculture by emailing farmprogram@coles.com.au or your main Coles contact. The Responsible Sourcing Manager – Agriculture is also available to consult with Coles suppliers on any animal welfare matters.

Non-compliances to the Animal Welfare Policy are reported through to the Responsible Sourcing Manager – Agriculture for further investigation and resolution.

Sourcing

Coles has a commitment to source animal products from farming operations that have a standard of animal welfare which meets our high expectations and, where applicable, holds animal welfare certification. We are continuously working with our suppliers to improve animal welfare standards in a way that supports Australian farmers and food producers, as we know this is important to our customers. Since 2011, our Coles Brand suppliers have met specific sourcing requirements or been independently assessed to a higher animal welfare standard. 100% of Coles Own Brand livestock must be raised as per the relevant species Model Code of Practice standards at a minimum. Coles ensures that our Animal Welfare Policy is reflected in the supply chain for all Own Brand products through mechanisms including supplier contracts, auditing processes and the Coles Farm Program. The Coles Food Manufacturing Supplier Requirement is a Standard that suppliers are audited against which includes animal welfare standards for relevant suppliers. For example, where processes involve live animals, poultry, fin fish, or crustaceans, an animal welfare policy must be in place stating the company’s intentions to meet all local laws and regulations regarding animal welfare.

In addition to the above requirements, Coles also recognises the importance of providing animals in our Own Brand product supply chains with environmental enrichment to allow them to express natural behaviours. The following list outlines the key enrichment requirements for each Coles Own Brand livestock species:

Species Provision Intended behaviour expressed
Meat chickens Perches, good quality litter Perching, dustbathing, foraging, scratching
Turkeys Perches, good quality litter, toys Perching, dustbathing, foraging, scratching
Layer hens Perches, nest boxes, good quality litter Nesting, perching, dustbathing, foraging, scratching
Pigs Manipulable bedding material Foraging, exploring, playing
Beef Pasture access Grazing
Dairy Pasture access Grazing

We also continue to develop products in guidance with our no animal testing policy, verifying that all finished Coles Own Brand food and non-food products are not tested on animals.

Higher welfare ingredients

By December 31st 2023, all Own Brand products with eggs as an ingredient will be sourced from cage free systems.

Coles has been progressively reformulating our Own Brand products to grow the proportion of products with higher welfare ingredients over the past few years. As of July 2019, we are proud to say that of our Coles Own Brand products with pork, beef, eggs, chicken or turkey used as an ingredient:

  • 76% of products have Sow Stall Free Pork, Ham and Bacon ingredients
  • 93% of products have No Added hormone beef ingredients
  • 88% of products have RSPCA Approved Chicken ingredients
  • 100% of products have RSPCA Approved Turkey ingredients
  • 11% of products have Cage Free Eggs ingredients

Our suppliers, product developers and commercial teams are all working together to ensure that new products being developed, as well as those currently on our shelves that are in plan for reformulation, are developed with higher welfare ingredients in mind.

Industry Work

Coles participates in industry and animal welfare events organised by government, researchers and NGOs throughout the year, such as the annual RSPCA Animal Welfare Seminar, the National Primary Industries Animal Welfare RD&E Forum and the Dairy and Beef Sustainability Frameworks. By participating in these events, we aim to stay abreast of the most current animal welfare science, improvements and collaborate on initiatives in this pre-competitive space to improve animal welfare standards in the long term. Coles has funded research in this space with the most recent being ‘Getting to the Meat of the Matter’, an Australian Research Council linkage project with the University of Adelaide, which looked at attitudes and understanding of livestock meat production in Australia. This research will enable both Coles and others to better communicate higher welfare options to the public.

In May 2019, key Coles staff in the meat, auditing and livestock teams undertook farm animal welfare training and achieved competencies in the Animal Welfare Officer skills set.

More information can be found on our Responsible Agriculture FAQsOpens in new window.

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Responsibly sourced seafood

Well-managed and responsible fishing is essential to maintaining healthy fish populations and habitats, and to ensure the future sustainability of marine ecosystems.

All Coles Own Brand seafood has been responsibly sourced since 2015. Our responsibly sourced Coles Own Brand seafood includes seafood available at the deli, canned Coles Own Brand tuna in the grocery aisle and frozen Coles Own Brand products such as crumbed fillets and fish fingers. Our range includes both wild-caught and farmed seafood.

Responsibly sourced seafood comes from fisheries and aquaculture farms that have been independently assessed. Coles’ Responsibly Sourced Seafood Program recognises a range of certification and assessment programs which ensure potential impacts on marine health and the environment are carefully monitored.

All Coles Brand seafood products have MSCOpens in new window certification or meet Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood criteria. Products are labelled according to the methodology under which they have been certified.


In February 2019, Coles was awarded the MSC Oceania Sustainable Seafood Supermarket of the Year AwardOpens in new window for the third year running, commended for offering certified products across our fresh, chilled, frozen and tinned seafood. Coles was recognised as having the widest eco-labelled range of any Australian supermarket, with all Coles’ Own Brand products labelled according to the methodology under which they have been certified. In 2015 Coles was also the first supermarket in Australia to obtain MSC certification for our seafood deli counters.

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As part of our Responsibly Sourced Seafood program, we have undertaken independent assessments of hundreds of wild and farmed seafood products to meet robust Coles Own Brand responsible sourcing requirements.

We continue to review our program yearly as fish stocks can fluctuate and the environment in which fisheries operate is complex and ever-changing.

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Products

In 2015, we met our voluntary commitment to remove microbeads from Coles Brand products. This was two years ahead of plan.