The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Coles to court, alleging that it sometimes advertised bread as “freshly baked in store” when it was actually prepared off-site and only finished in the supermarket. The reminder for other businesses? Don’t make claims about your product that you can’t substantiate.
According to the ACCC, Coles promoted some of its Coles Baker and Cuisine Royale breads as ‘Freshly Baked In Store’ or ‘Baked Today, Sold Today’ when those breads had actually been partially baked off site, then frozen and shipped to the store for “finishing”. In the case of Cuisine Royale, the preparation sometimes took place overseas. Signage in store was often confusing, meaning it wasn’t easy to tell when the signs applied:
The ACCC is concerned that Coles’ lack of distinction in its promotional representations between bread products that are freshly prepared from scratch and par baked products is misleading to consumers and places competing bakeries that do freshly bake from scratch at a competitive disadvantage.
The ACCC has been conducting ongoing investigations into whether Coles and Woolworths misuse their market dominance; it’s not clear if this issue emerged as a result of those investigations or separately. We’re sure small bakeries will welcome the move, but it’s a reminder to businesses of all sizes not to make claims that can’t be backed up. The case will hit court in August.