Woolworths And Coles Busted For Deceptive Fruit Labels

Preferring to buy Australian-grown fruit and vegetables is pretty common, but if you buy from a supermarket you have to rely on the in-store labelling being accurate. Two supermarkets — one Coles, one Woolworths — in NSW have just been busted for inaccurately labelling imported produce as Australian-grown.

Woolworths at Newington got fined $1540 for labelling American lemons as Australian-grown, while Coles at St Marys copped an $880 fine for displaying grapefruit without showing its country of origin. It’s annoying that it ever happened, but a little reassuring that at least fines have been imposed. Ultimately, the surest way to know something is locally grown is to grow it yourself or purchase it straight from a farm, but that’s not practical for everyone.

Primary Industries press release [PDF]


  • Mr Biggles. Its the ‘everyone is equal in the eyes of the law’ principle. Coles or Woolies shouldn’t be fined more than a local grocer, convenience store or fruit stand for the same offence.

  • I agree with Mr Biggles..
    I don’t bother buying any Veggies or Fruit from Coles or woolies (unless I have no other option) the local weekend markets have everything I need. It’s fresh and it’s cheap.. how could anyone go anywhere else

  • i think these are accidental oversights then intentionally misleading consumers. The fines are more a signal to let the stores know that they are being monitored. Repeat offenders should pay heavy penalties. For now, im sure the sales assistant or area manager involved, wont let it happen again.

  • I don’t recall my local small independent green grocer having any country of origin signs on their main produce, I guess it’s because he gets it all from the local (in my case Victoria Market) I’ll have to check next time I purchase some vegies.

    Concerning Woolies and Coles, it’s a travesty so much so called ‘fresh’ produce comes from overseas nowadays. Try and find a locally grown orange, they all seem to be from the USA this time of the year , or garlic , Chinese and Argentinean. I guess ‘fresh’ means being in storage for weeks and transported from a foreign destination.

    Perhaps Woolies should change their jingle/slogan from ‘The Fresh Food People’ to ‘The Imported Maximise Profits People’

    Sadly fresh produce isn’t the only imported food this duopoly have been maxing out lately. :Fresh’ fish and a whole host of what was basic canned goods (corn, beans, asparagus to name a few) seem to be taking over more and more shelf space. I end up spending half my time reading labels in supermarkets nowadays and rejecting the non local product.

  • I get everything delivered from Aussie Farmers Direct. Cheaper than the supermarkets, much better quality, 100% Australian and delivered to the door. You can’t go wrong!

  • Isolated incidents at a couple of stores, hardly crime of the century, yet these two are easy, natural targets.

    I’d expect it to be challenging to weigh up only-Aussie-sourced against customers-demand-product. As far as I know there’s been no offshore sourcing of bananas since the Qld floods, but presumably customers would prefer to pay less than $12/kilo…

  • At my local coles a few weeks back I saw lemons with a sign on them that said ‘made from local and important ingredients’…
    They really do take the piss.

  • As long as people want out of season fruit and veg at the same time as wanting to buy local produce, supermarkets will be tempted to lie about the source. In-season food is cheaper because it’s not imported by ship or been put in long-term cold storage for 6 months.

  • Hooray. These labels will allow me to choose items that are not overpriced, low quality Aussie products, the lemming approach is what keeps prices high and allows farmers to keep crying poor. That is, until they sell their farm to some corporate or Asian buyer for tens of millions of dollars…

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