Monday, November 22, 2010

AECL squeals at Coles

The Australian Corporation has its knickers in a knot after Coles announced its decision to phase out  its home brand cage eggs and reduce the price of its home brand 'free range' eggs. Don't know why they are pretending to be upset because this was always planned once AECL tried to water down 'free range' standards.
Here's the press release AECL sent out:
Egg industry supports consumer choice

Coles Supermarkets have announced that they will lower the price of their free-range eggs to encourage consumers to buy eggs that are more “ethically produced”. In addition to this, Coles plans to remove Coles brand of cage produced eggs by 2013, thereby removing the most cost effective egg category available to Australian households in their stores. Coles have entered into this decision without consultation with industry representatives or their own suppliers of eggs, leaving egg farmers disappointed and concerned for the future of their businesses.
“Australian egg farmers are passionate about producing accessible, sustainable and affordable food for Australian families and have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to ensure the welfare, health and safety of egg laying hens, across all recognized egg production systems” declared AECL’s Managing Director James Kellaway.
Coles Merchandise Director, John Durkan stated, “This is part of our ongoing campaign to offer all customers quality fresh food, ethically produced and at affordable prices.” Yet Coles pick and choose what is “ethical” according to their own agenda, rather than relying on fact and scientific reality. Eggs from cage systems offer welfare, food safety and environmental advantages that cannot be found in alternative systems, and by restricting the variety available to consumers, Coles strips shoppers of the freedom to make their own ethical choices at the supermarket checkout.
With nearly 65% of eggs sold at retail, coming from cage systems in Australia (and around 85% worldwide), Coles are dictating to their customers what products they can and cannot purchase. With a growing population expected to reach 36 million by 2050, and 12% of Australian children currently living in poverty, now is not the time to take away one of the most affordable, versatile and nutrient dense foods available.
Australian egg farmers are committed to farming for the future nutrition of all Australians, by offering the freedom for consumers to choose what variety of egg production suits their needs. “Farmers face countless challenges to produce the food we eat, with drought, flood, pests and competition from imported goods, it is disappointing that one of the major retailers in Australia chooses to create further impediments to egg farming families, thereby challenging the viability and sustainability of local food production” added Mr. Kellaway.

Beating up on Coles for listening to its customers doesn't strike me as a very good idea and I can't imagine what James Kellaway is thinking. He's obviously getting some very poor advice particularly as he has spent the past six months trying to push through an intensive 'free range' stocking density standard which will be essential if Coles is to meet its stated objectives.

It seems that AECL agrees with Con Tamvakis and doesn't care what consumers want.

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