The ACCC - our consumer watchdog - has begun federal court proceedings against Coles for "false, misleading and deceptive conduct" for advertising their bread as "freshly baked in-store" when it is partially baked overseas. It's hard to believe, but a new line they have introduced called Cuisine Royale is actually par baked in Ireland, frozen and sent to Coles where it is finished off and sold as "fresh."
It's not the budget Coles loaves they bake every day in their bakery, but the dearer, more appealing upmarket loaves such as sourdough , Turkish and olive bread, as well as sweet items, and if you look very carefully, you will see "Product of Ireland" printed on the packaging.
Coles has 749 supermarkets in Australia and 625 of those have an in-store bakery.
Coles Managing Director Ian McLeod said the bread issue is a storm in a teacup. "It is simply a trial of one new branded bread line, and customers will decide if it stays on the shelves. Contrary to claims, Cuisine Royale is not being used to pressure local bread makers and it has not pushed any locally-made bread off our shelves. Over 99 per cent of the 3.8 million loves of bread we sell each week in Coles' stores, is made in Australia with local ingredients and that will not change."
One of many Baker's Delight franchises across the country
Mr McLeod went on "Our products are made in Ireland using the finest ingredients sourced all over the world and are not replacing any of the current Coles range, but are an additional, premium range giving the Coles shopper more choice."
He said the Irish company only recently started exporting to the Australian market and they were given six weeks to make an impact on Coles customers or they were out. If customers like the products on offer, the company will launch a full range nationwide which will create much needed, new jobs in rural Ireland.
But the ICCC isn't convinced and thinks Coles could be aiming to put pressure on Australian farmers and manufacturers to reduce prices.
But it makes you wonder - we are one of the largest wheat suppliers in the world, yet a suitable gourmet baker can't be found in Australia? Surely not, as much as we love the Irish, shouldn't Mr McLeod be more concerned about providing much needed jobs for Aussies, rather than the rural Irish?