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Customer fury as Coles dumps milk range

A bitterly disappointed Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds have lashed out at Coles restricting their Gippsland Jersey brand.

A bitterly disappointed Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds have lashed out at Coles restricting their Gippsland Jersey brand. Photos: Facebook

Coles customers have reacted with fury after learning the retail giant is about to dump a popular dairy brand from most of its stores.

The award-winning Gippsland Jersey milk has been stocked in 200 Coles supermarkets across the country, but is about to be cut to just 16.

The Victorian dairy company revealed the change, which takes effect from the end of June, in a statement to Facebook on Monday.

“The brand is being delisted from the majority of Coles stores due to the retailer’s margin requirements and sales expectations,” co-founders Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds wrote.

“We are bitterly disappointed that Coles supermarket has a system that we believe doesn’t really work for little brands like us.”

The post and another on the same subject have attracted hundreds of comments (and hundreds more likes) from customers in support – and others threatening to take their shopping elsewhere.

“Very disappointing Coles! Be better,” wrote one customer.

“Sad, unfortunately the big supermarkets don’t care about you, me or anyone else … Support local people,” wrote another.

“While we go to another supermarket to get GJ milk, we may as well do the rest of our shopping,” said a third, while a fourth wrote that “if Coles won’t support local producers such as Gippsland Jersey and they put their profits over local jobs, I’m done with Coles”.

In their lengthy statement, Jones and Ronalds acknowledged Gippsland Jersey was a more expensive brand.

“As we navigate through the aisles of our supermarkets, many of us are questioning the rising costs of everyday essentials,” they said.

“While paying $5.80 for a bottle of Gippsland Jersey milk may seem expensive, it’s crucial to understand the real impact of these price changes on those who produce the milk. Dairy farmers across Australia are facing significant financial pressures, with many questioning their future in the industry amidst pay cuts of 10-16 per cent.”

But they said their “mum and dad-owned independent milk brand” was committed to paying a fair milk price to its five suppliers.

“A fairer system for [retailers] to have the same margin expectations on generic supermarket-branded milk as the branded milks would have a much different price point in the supermarket,” they said.

“We’ve tried hard but we just don’t have the big advertising budgets and profitability to ‘go on sale’ and drop our pants on giving them more margin and we certainly won’t be going broke trying to appease them.

“This decision by Coles overlooks the broader impact on family farms and rural communities, which depend on the viability of local dairy businesses like Gippsland Jersey to provide jobs and transport, etc and more importantly you would think in giving consumers a choice.”

Here is a comment, to be attributed to a Coles spokesperson:

“Giving customers choice when shopping is an important part of our offer at Coles.

To ensure we have the right products available on shelf, we regularly review the ranges on offer to understand how items are being received by customers, and to help ensure the right products can be purchased by shoppers in parts of the country where there is most demand.

We remain committed to continuing to support independent and local producers, and from July, we will focus on selling Gippsland Jersey in 16 stores in Victoria where we see most demand for this local brand from customers.”

Coles has also agreed to give extra shelf space to Gippsland Jersey products in the supermarkets where they will still be stocked.

Topics: Coles
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