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 through programs such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA Australia) Approved Farming Scheme. 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 of animal welfare:

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

This policy sets out our expectations regarding the treatment of animals in our supermarket Own Brand global supply chains.

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

  • All supermarket Own Brand fresh beef with no added hormones;
  • All supermarket Own Brand shell eggs cage-free;
  • All supermarket Own Brand fresh pork, ham and bacon sow stall-free and produced without artificial growth promotants;
  • All supermarket Own Brand fresh chicken RSPCA Approved;
  • All supermarket Own Brand fresh turkey RSPCA Approved;
  • All supermarket Own Brand fresh free-range pork RSPCA Approved; and
  • All supermarket Own Brand fresh free-range chicken RSPCA Approved.

Our Animal Welfare Policy objectives are assessed through regular audits of food manufacturing sites, certification to farm assurance standards and the assessment of farms against our Coles Farm Program requirements. These results are reported by the Quality and Responsible Sourcing teams to commercial and senior management. RSPCA Australia assesses our partner chicken, turkey and pork abattoirs, through the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme for conformance with RSPCA Approved Standards. In addition to this, all our partner red meat and pork abattoirs are independently audited by the industry body AUS-MEAT; to the Australian Livestock Processing Industry 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.

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, hold 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. Coles ensures that our Animal Welfare Policy is reflected in the supply chain for supermarket 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 Own Brand 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 supplier’s intentions to meet all local laws and regulations regarding animal welfare.

Higher welfare ingredients

Coles has been progressively reformulating our supermarket Own Brand products to grow the proportion of products with higher welfare ingredients over the past few years. As of September 2020, we are proud to say that of our Coles supermarket Own Brand products (including fresh and frozen) with pork, beef, eggs, chicken or turkey used as an ingredient:

  • 83% of products have sow-stall free pork, ham and bacon ingredients;
  • 93% of products have no added hormone beef ingredients;
  • 95% of products have RSPCA Approved chicken ingredients; and
  • 26% of products have cage-free eggs ingredients.

In addition to the above, all of our supermarket Own Brand Christmas Turkey products are also RSPCA Approved. We do not currently sell any supermarket Own Branded fresh turkey products outside the Christmas period. 

Industry Work

Coles participates in industry and animal welfare events organised by state government, researchers and NGOs throughout the year, such as the annual RSPCA Animal Welfare Seminar, the National Primary Industries Animal Welfare Research Development and Extension Forum and the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF), an initiative of the Red Meat Advisory Council managed by Meat and Livestock Australia. In FY20, Coles contributed to industry welfare initiatives such as the development of Meat and Livestock Australia’s Feedlot Cattle Welfare Benchmarking Framework. We are a contributing member of the AUS-MEAT Language and Standards Committee, which manages the development of the AUS-MEAT National Accreditation Standards including welfare requirements.

In 2020 our Responsible Sourcing Manager – Agriculture also contributed to the second season of RSPCA’s Humane Food Podcast on the topic of antibiotic resistance, usage practices in the Australian agricultural industry and welfare implications of restricting antibiotic use in farm animals.

By participating in these events, we aim to stay up-to-date with the most current animal welfare science and collaborate on initiatives to improve animal welfare standards in the long term.

In May 2019, our key Coles meat, auditing and livestock teams undertook farm animal welfare training and achieved competencies in the Animal Welfare Officer skills set covering humane slaughter and key animal welfare issues for Coles farm animal species.

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.

 

We are committed to the responsible sourcing of seafood and were awarded the Best Sustainable Seafood Supermarket in Australia again in 2020. The Marine Stewardship Council has named Coles holder of the award since 2017. Coles is 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.