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Ethics in Practice

At Coles, we live our values and ways of working. This includes treating everyone with care, respect and fairness.

We also require our suppliers and business partners to share our ways of working and seek their commitment to our Ethical Sourcing Policy. Ethical sourcing is a commitment to the purchase of goods and services that are manufactured and provided in a way that does not involve exploitation, or represent a danger to health, safety or the environment. Our policy provides clear guidance to our team members and our suppliers about the employment practices and social standards we expect to be upheld in the process of supplying Coles branded products.

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Ethical sourcing in Coles supply chain

We regularly audit suppliers operating outside Australia to ensure compliance with our policy and where a supplier does not meet our standards, we work with them on a corrective action plan. Should a supplier be unable to demonstrate a commitment to our ethical sourcing policy, Coles reserves the right to terminate its trading agreement. Our policy is based primarily on the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, and requires that:

  • Local laws are respected
  • Employment is freely chosen
  • Child labour shall not be used
  • Illegal labour shall not be used
  • Appropriate wages are paid
  • Working hours are not excessive
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
  • Working conditions are safe and hygienic
  • No discrimination is practised
  • Regular employment is provided
  • No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
  • Businesses operate ethically
  • No unauthorised sub-contracting is allowed
  • Due regard is given to environmental impacts


Australian Business Pledge against Forced Labour

In 2015, Coles became a signatory to an industry-led initiative to end forced labour in our supply chain. This is consistent with our Ethical Sourcing Policy which requires suppliers to Coles to source products in an ethical and responsible manner and strictly prohibits child labour, illegal labour or forced/bonded labour.

You can read more about the Pledge here.

Coles awarded Fairtrade Retail Chain of the Year for the second year running

We are proud to be awarded Fairtrade Retail Chain of the Year (2014) for the second year running, having widely promoted Fairtrade Certified products during the year in Coles Magazine, in store and via our catalogue. We’ve also added to our range of Fairtrade Certified products during the year and are committed to deliver new Fairtrade products into the future.

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Sustainable Palm Oil

While palm oil itself is a useful product, unsustainable farming practices have a negative impact on the environment and wildlife in developing countries where palms are grown. That’s why Coles is increasingly sourcing grocery products and fresh produce from environmentally responsible growers and suppliers and working with industry groups and other organisations to find solutions. We are a member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and have embraced the Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. Coles has a policy under which we label palm oil where it is used in Coles branded products, to make it easier for customers to make informed purchasing decisions. Our policy ensures we always identify palm oil instead of using the term ‘blended vegetable oils’. As a member of the RSPO, we are committed to move to certified sustainable palm oil in all Coles branded products and we are pleased to advise that all palm oil now used to manufacture Coles Brand food and drink is sustainable.

Hungry for more? Download a factsheet about Sustainable Palm Oil

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Farm and Factory Workers Hotline

Coles is committed to ensuring that workers in our supply chains are treated fairly.

As part of this effort, we have set up the Coles Wages and Conditions Hotline for Farm and Factory Workers. In Australia, employees who work for a Coles supplier can call 1300 532 515 between 8am-8pm, 7 days a week to understand more about their conditions of employment or to report unfair labour practices.

For workers where English is not a first language, we have an email facility at can provide their telephone number, preferred language and a brief description of their concerns.

View factsheet