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Responsible sourcing is focused on animal welfare and the sourcing of raw materials. Click the links below to jump to a section.
Products that are certified by an industry specific body help minimise the instances of unethical practices or environmental damage in the supply chain.
All Coles Brand food and drink products use only sustainable palm oil.
While palm oil is used in many products around the world, unsustainable farming practices are having a negative impact on the environment and wildlife in some countries where palms are grown. Coles is increasingly sourcing grocery products and fresh produce from environmentally responsible growers and suppliers.
Coles is a member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and has embraced its Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. As a member of the RSPO, our intention is to use only sustainable palm oil in all Coles Brand products.
All Coles Brand food and drink products now contain or support RSPO palm oil through the physical supply chain options Identity Preserved, Segregated and Mass Balance. This represents almost all of the palm oil used in Coles Brand products.
We are also moving to sustainable palm oil and palm derivatives in our Coles Brand homecare, health, beauty and baby products. While these changes are being made, we offset the use of palm oil in Coles Brand non-food products by purchasing PalmTrace certificates which support sustainable palm oil farmers and processes. PalmTrace, and previously GreenPalm, has been endorsed by the RSPO as the official broker for the trade in sustainable palm oil certificates.
When developing new Coles Brand products, we will use sustainable palm oil wherever possible and where we cannot, we will use alternative oils and ingredients. This approach encourages palm oil producers to move to sustainable practices, while supporting the livelihoods of those communities dependent on the palm oil industry. Where sustainable palm oil is present in our food and drink products, we will label it accordingly. Our policy requires us to identify palm oil specifically instead of using the common term ‘blended vegetable oils’.
All Coles Brand tea is from certified sources
(either UTZ, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance).
At Coles, we believe that we have a responsibility to work with the cocoa, coffee and tea industries to ensure that these commodities are sourced ethically and sustainably and to help grow a market for independently certified products such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ.
All Coles own brand loose tea and tea bags are from certified sources, and the business is committed to using certified coffee and cocoa in all Coles own brand coffee, cocoa and chocolate products by 2020.
Customer receipts at all Coles supermarkets, liquor and convenience outlets are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard to complement Coles’ ongoing commitment to sustainable paper products.
We aim to have all Coles Brand products made with certified timber and paper by 2020.
At Coles, we care about how the food we sell is produced and where it comes from. We are committed to working towards a sustainable future that supports local farmers and food producers, while looking after the welfare of animals.
We are proud that Coles was the first major Australian supermarket to deliver:
Our Animal Welfare Policy sets out our expectations regarding the treatment of animals in the meat, fresh produce and grocery products supply chains for all Coles Brand products.
The Animal Welfare Policy details our commitment to source meat and animal products from farming operations that have a standard of animal welfare that meets our high expectations and, where appropriate, that hold animal welfare certification. It also specifies that no Coles Brand products will be tested on animals.
Our approach to animal welfare for Coles Brand products is based around the five freedoms:
Want to know more? Read our Responsible Agriculture FAQs.
Established in 2014, the Coles Farm Program captures positive activities our growers and farmers are undertaking to support the environment and animal welfare, and provides a platform to explore potential opportunities and support best-practice farming. The focus of the Coles Farm Program is to work with suppliers to support continuous improvement.
Each year farmers complete a self-assessment and from that challenges and opportunities can be identified and addressed. For example, as a result of the assessments we have held seminars with some suppliers regarding on-farm energy management and integrated pest management.
Under the Coles Farm Program we have established steering committees for eggs, grass fed beef and fresh produce and will be establishing committees for other species and products as another mechanism to engage with our suppliers.
Suppliers are audited under the Coles Farm Program against the information they have provided including animal welfare practices such as low stress handling practices. Coles undertakes audits of a minimum of 10 per cent of supplier sites each year under the Coles Farm Program.
We work with RSPCA Approved farms and brands to offer customers a range of humanely farmed Coles Brand products, including fresh chicken, free range pork and turkey.
The RSPCA Approved Farming SchemeOpens in new windowOpens in new window establishes higher welfare standards (beyond legislative requirements) and commercially achievable production standards for pigs, chicken and turkeys. All RSPCA Approved farms are audited on a minimum yearly basis for acceptance into the program.
Animals in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme are housed in an environment that meets their physical and behavioral needs. For example, our RSPCA Approved free range pork is sourced from RSPCA Approved farms where pigs are provided with shelter and bedding, as well as having permanent access to outdoor areas where they can roam and forage.
All RSPCA Approved products at Coles are marked with an RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme logo.
Following extensive work with our pork suppliers, all Coles Brand fresh pork is sow stall free and free from artificial growth promotants. This was a first for an Australian major supermarket.
It means that all Coles Brand fresh pork, ham and bacon are sourced from farms that only use gestation stalls for a maximum of 24 hours, as opposed to the industry standard of 10 days. This major animal welfare initiative means that approximately 34,000 mother pigs are no longer kept in small, single-pig stalls for long periods.
All pigs raised by suppliers of Coles Brand pork are free to move about in pens and socialise with other mother pigs.
Coles sow stall free pork undergoes rigorous auditing. In addition to being assessed against the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program (APIQ), it is also assessed to more stringent requirements developed by APIQ and Coles on areas such as bedding, enrichment, husbandry practices stocking densities, antibiotics, growth promotants and hormone use.
Known as the Customer Specifications for Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (APIQ + CSC) standardOpens in new windowOpens in new window, it extends above the current industry standard.
Coles Brand free range pork is the only RSPCA Approved fresh pork stocked nationally by an Australian supermarket. A long-term contract has allowed an increase in the number of RSPCA Approved pigs grown exclusively for Coles in Western Australia and has resulted in an increase in farm employment.
In 2013, when we began our journey towards higher welfare chicken, less than five percent of Australian chicken production was approved by the RSPCA. Now over half of national production meets this higher welfare standard, as others in the industry have followed Coles' lead.
"The RSPCA is proud to support Coles in its goal to provide higher welfare products available to its customers. Coles was the first national supermarket to make the switch to sourcing RSPCA Approved chicken under its own brand - a decision which has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of meat chickens. Coles is also the only national retailer to stock RSPCA Approved pork and ensure RSPCA Approved turkey is available at Christmas. The decision by Coles to source a range of RSPCA Approved products demonstrates a great commitment to improving the lives of farm animals."
Heather Neil, CEO RSPCA Australia
In September 2018, Coles launched Coles Free Range RSPCA Approved Chicken in Victoria and New South Wales. Coles currently has the largest range of RSPCA Approved products of any Australian national supermarket chain.
All Coles Free Range RSPCA Approved chickens have access to enriched environments where they can forage and explore the outdoors for a minimum of eight hours a day. They are provided with a barn for shelter and protection at night and are given the freedom to express their natural, innate behaviours with adequate space to move, perch and dustbathe. RSPCA Assessors perform regular on-farm assessments to ensure the RSPCA’s detailed animal welfare standards are met.
This is just another example of how we work with our suppliers to improve animal welfare standards.
All Coles Brand eggs are cage free. They are either barn laid or free range.
Our Coles Brand free range and barn laid standard aligns with the five freedoms and requires that hens are free to display their natural behaviours by having access to nest boxes, perches and litter for dust bathing.
In addition, the Coles Brand free range standard requires that during the day hens have easy access to an outdoor range, shade from the sun and space to roam.
Since we moved all our Coles own brand eggs to cage free in 2013, we have been working with our proprietary egg suppliers to increase production of cage free eggs. We are now expanding this commitment to only sell cage free shell eggs in our supermarkets by 2023. This initiative will also include a commitment to only source cage free eggs as ingredients in our Coles own brand products.
All the fresh Coles Brand beef in our meat departments has been 100 percent Australian sourced with no added hormones since 2011. By not adding hormones the cattle can grow more naturally.
Graze beef is sourced from Australian farmers in partnership with Coles. It is grass fed, 100 percent Australian, free to roam and with no added hormones.
Graze beef cattle are free to graze in open pastures across Australia from the New South Wales tablelands, Victoria’s North East and Gippsland areas, South Australia’s Limestone Coast and the Great Southern Region of Western Australia.
Growers adhere to high standards which require the cattle to have access to graze in open pastures, to be cared for by skilled stock men and women and to be free of hormone growth promotants. The Graze beef standards also cover feed and water, as well as other areas including traceability and animal handling.
We understand that the responsible use of antibiotics in agriculture is an important issue for animal and human health.
In 2014, Coles was the first major Australian supermarket to implement a policy to remove the use of antibiotics for the purposes of promoting growth in livestock. We only allow our suppliers to use antibiotics for animal health purposes under veterinary supervision.
Since 2014, we have also been working on producer programs that incorporate herd health plans and alternatives such as prebiotics and vaccinations to prevent the need for antibiotics.
Coles is continuing to work with producers and industry stakeholders to ensure best practice in the responsible use of antibiotics in the agricultural supply chain.
In July 2018, we began rolling out an antibiotics assessment module via the Coles Farm Program that allows us to capture information around antibiotic uses, including prophylactic use.
The RSPCA standards for chicken and turkey require that any use of antibiotics is included as part of the farm’s veterinary health plan and the RSPCA is notified of any prophylactic treatment. For RSPCA Approved Free Range Pigs, any use of antibiotics must be detailed in their veterinary health plan, which must be reviewed each year in consultation with the attending veterinarian.
All Coles Brand seafood is responsibly sourced. We understand that well-managed and responsible fishing is essential to maintaining healthy fish populations and habitats, and to ensure the future sustainability of our marine ecosystems.
Our responsibly sourced Coles Brand seafood includes seafood available at the deli, canned Coles Brand tuna in the grocery aisle and frozen Coles Brand products such as fish fingers. Our range includes wild-caught and farmed seafood.
All Coles brand seafood is responsibly sourced and has been since 2015.
Different programs and certifications ensure potential impacts on marine health and the environment are carefully monitored.
Responsibly sourced seafood comes from fisheries and aquaculture farms that have been independently assessed. All Coles Brand seafood products have Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)Opens in new window certification or meet Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood criteria. Products are labelled according to the methodology under which they have been certified.
As part of the Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood program, we have undertaken independent assessments of hundreds of wild and farmed seafood products to meet robust Coles Brand responsible sourcing requirements.
We will continue to review our program yearly as fish stocks can fluctuate and the environment in which fisheries operate is complex and ever-changing.
"Coles has played a pioneering role in sustainable seafood. It has the only Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) chain of custody certified wetfish counters in Australia, and offers the largest range of certified products of any Australian retailer. Coles’ sourcing policy is world-leading."
Patrick Caleo, MSC Regional Director, Asia-Pacific
Recognised as one of the world’s leading certification programs for sustainable wild-catch seafood, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)Opens in new windowOpens in new window is an independent, non-governmental organisation committed to maintaining sustainable oceans. Coles recognises the MSC as the gold standard for sustainable wild-caught seafood.
In February 2019, Coles was awarded the MSC Oceania Sustainable Seafood Supermarket of the Year Award 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.
At Coles, our preference is to source either MSC or certified aquaculture seafood. We also understand that obtaining certification can be a rigorous and intensive process so for those suppliers yet to obtain this we have implemented the Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood Program.
The Program applies to both wild and farmed seafood.
The Program for wild caught seafood was developed in conjunction with WWF AustraliaOpens in new window and MRAG Asia PacificOpens in new window (an independent sustainable seafood specialist). Independent auditors assess suppliers against the following criteria:
The Program for farmed (aquaculture) requires suppliers to be either certified by Aquaculture Stewardship Council,
GLOBALG.A.P. or Best Aquaculture Practice, or to have undertaken an independent assessment against an approved methodology such as that developed by WWF Australia.
This means that aspects of the farming production system including broodstock, seedling, feed, harvesting and processing and any potential environmental impacts (such as water quality) have been assessed and meet Coles’ standards.
Customers may still see the blue or green Future Friendly Sourcing logos on some of our Coles Brand seafood. These logos are being replaced by the MSC or Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood logo. If you purchase a product with the Future Friendly Sourcing logo you can be confident it has been responsibly sourced and complies with our new Coles Brand Responsibly Sourced Seafood Program.
Our Coles Brand canned Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna are responsibly sourced which means the following conditions are met:
Fish stocks: The fish stock where Coles Brand Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna are caught has been independently assessed as part of our Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood Program.
Reduced by-catch: Coles Brand Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna are caught without the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs), which are essentially rafts that attract fish. This results in less by-catch.
Traceability: Coles Brand Skipjack and Yellowfin canned tuna can be traced back to the approved fishing boat that caught the tuna as well as the boat that transported it to the cannery.
Independent observers: Boats that catch Coles Brand Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna have independent observers on board to ensure robust data is available to help manage the fishery and monitor compliance with conservation measures specified by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.