Got Milk? Coles And Woolies Don’t And People Are In a Rage

Serving fresh milk in a glass vase on a wooden table

Customers devoid of branded milk upon Coles’ and Woolworths’ shelves are venting their anger good and proper on the supermarkets’ social media pages.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

Reports are circulating the supermarkets are only selling Coles and Woolworths branded milk in their respective stores.

It’s led to the suggestion from consumers the lack of other milk brands comes from the supermarkets’ vested interests in selling their own products before others. And comes at a time dairy milk farmers are feeling the pinch with the low-price Coles and Woolworths milk.

Coles and Woolworths milk generally sells for $1 a litre, however other milk brands such as Pura Milk and Dairy Farmers sell for a couple of dollars per litre.

Many customers are rallying around the farmers, buying branded milk to support the dairy industry. However, many images on social media reportedly show a shortage of these dairy farming milk brands on shelves, whereas Coles branded milk and Woolworths branded milk are continuing to be stocked.

One customer wrote on Coles’ Facebook page: “Why are we going to our local Coles and only seeing Coles brand Milk, you need to support our farmers, instead your only restocking your own Milk, shame on you…..If you are selling more of our local farmers milk, order more……..SHAME SHAME SHAME”

Another wrote, in part: “This afternoon I was in your shop looking at the milk fridge. Absolutely full of your own brand. But none of the others to be seen. My question to you is- are you keeping your own stock on the shelves so there is nothing else to buy? The message is loud and clear.”

However, others on social media have defended Coles and Woolworths, saying it’s not in every store and posting pictures of an abundance of milk choices.

The supermarkets have been busy replying to customer complaints saying there is no truth to claims the companies have been asked to stock only home-branded products.

In response to one customer questioning the lack of diversity, Woolworths wrote, in part: “Staff have not been instructed to stop refilling branded milk, however we are very disappointed to hear that they did not assist you with your request. 

“We can assure you that we are stocking branded milk the same way this week as we have done in previous weeks. In some of our stores there has been out of stocks on these lines, as there has been an increase in demand for the product, but our replenishment teams are working closely with our suppliers to rectify this issue. We always aim to have our shelves stocked with the products our customers want to buy, therefore our team are working hard to increase the supply of branded milk in all stores.”

A Coles spokesperson also told B&T over the weekend many of its stores had sold out of branded milk due to “increased demand”, reiterating a similar message as the Woolworths social media employee.

“Stores were not advised to withhold selling branded milk in order to sell Coles Brand Milk first. Many stores have in fact increased their orders of branded milk to meet this increased demand.

“We want to help dairy farmers and so we’re launching a new milk brand that will deliver an extra 20c per litre to a fund that will help support dairy farmers in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania. We already have similar products to support farmers in SA and WA, and we’ve kicked off this new initiative with a commitment of $1 million.”

See the bottom of the article for Coles’ full statement.

The issue comes off the back of an embarrassing social media gaffe from Coles when a reply to a query about whether the Coles Milk is made from milk powder appeared to confirm this.

However, it was apparently an error in typing, and was supposed to say it was not made of milk powder.

Coles’ statement this morning alluded to this as well.

“Our Coles Brand Milk is supplied primarily by farmer-owned Australian co-operatives such as Murray Goulburn in VIC and Norco in northern NSW and QLD. Our Coles Brand Fresh Milk is exactly that – fresh. It’s not made from reconstituted milk powder and it’s 100 per cent permeate-free.”

Still, analyst David McKinna is unsure how long the outrage and support of the Dairy Farmers will last for.

“But at the end of the day, consumers are battling and if you can save yourself $10 a week by buying [supermarket-label] milk, you will,” he told the ABC. “It’s short-term and fairly marginal.

“There will be a lot of social media while it’s in the headlines, but I think then it will start to waver.”

Coles’ full statement:

“Our Coles Brand Milk is supplied primarily by farmer-owned Australian co-operatives such as Murray Goulburn in VIC and Norco in northern NSW and QLD. Our Coles Brand Fresh Milk is exactly that – fresh. It’s not made from reconstituted milk powder and it’s 100% permeate-free.

Over the weekend, many of our stores sold out of branded milk due to increased demand. Stores were not advised to withhold selling branded milk in order to sell Coles Brand Milk first. Many stores have in fact increased their orders of branded milk to meet this increased demand.

Processors set the price that farmers are paid, not Coles. The majority of milk produced in our largest dairying state of Victoria is exported overseas, so the export price is the major factor that determines the amount farmers are paid for their milk. A global oversupply of milk has recently led to sharp falls in the export price, which has resulted in some processors paying farmers less for their milk.

We want to help dairy farmers and so we’re launching a new milk brand that will deliver an extra 20c per litre to a fund that will help support dairy farmers in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania. We already have similar products to support farmers in SA and WA, and we’ve kicked off this new initiative with a commitment of $1 million.”