​Media release

Littleproud calls Coles and Aldi’s weak responses

16 October 2018

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has called out Coles and Aldi over their responses to criticism yesterday, asking “Is that the best they’ve got?”

Minister Littleproud yesterday called out Coles for its “milk levy” which will not go back to those farmers who supply it at ten cents per litre supplied – because Coles doesn’t even know which farmers supply it milk; it deals with a milk processor instead.​

He also criticised the big German retailer Aldi which sells very cheap milk for not participating in any kind of dairy reform, calling it a one finger salute to Australian dairy farmers.

“For Coles to pretend I wasn’t aware of their most recent ‘system’ to get milk to farmers is BS. I couldn’t give a rats Coles want to criticise me for calling out their media stunt - they make millions of dollars a year from farmers and if I have to go to the media to call out their slippery corporate behaviour then bad luck.

“Obviously, Coles’ first lazy idea was to just give money to the NFF and hope they’d sort it out – which didn’t happen.

“I’m well aware their recent announcement includes a Coles ‘independent’ person who will look at the grant applications from farmers, but Coles is still forcing farmers to apply for grants which farmers will see as welfare, and Coles has no way of knowing which farmers supply it what milk because Coles deals with a processor, not individual farmers.

“Farmers want fair trade, not aid.

“If I were Coles, or Aldi for that matter, I wouldn’t be baiting farmers to go to media by telling everyone how great I am to farmers. That has already backfired today when a dairy farmer on ABC Radio National detailed how he had to wait months to be paid for his milk.

“Dairy farmers are telling me a mandatory code of conduct for processors and farmers is a good thing - but the supermarkets need oversight too. That makes sense to me.

“The Australian consumer has the power here – they can make change with their wallets. They can buy branded milk, preferably from an independent, and put a fairer return back in farmers’ pockets.

“I’m well aware supermarkets rub their hands together when I tell people to go to branded milk, because the supermarkets make more money from branded milk than they do from $1 milk. The fact is the farmer gets paid more fairly for branded milk and that’s the point. Milk shouldn’t be cheaper than water.

“Australia without dairy farmers would be a sad place, reliant on other countries to supply our needs.”​