Less Than One-Quarter Of The Milk We Buy Is Supermarket-Branded

House brands produced for the major supermarkets are often controversial, and milk has been a particular target ever since Coles began selling its own store-brand milk for $1 a litre back in 2011, a move Woolworths quickly matched. Two years later, market data suggests that a less than quarter of the milk sold in those supermarkets is a store-branded product.

Australian Food News reports that Roy Morgan Research data shows 22 per cent of milk sales in the year to March 2013 was store-branded products. That was down from a peak of 26 per cent for Woolworths and 24 per cent for Coles. In other words: store brands are the biggest sellers in those chains, but collectively other non-store brands sell more.

When Coles introduced the bargain milk back in 2011, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigated whether its pricing tactics were anti-competitive, and concluded that they weren't. The current market data suggests that the cheaper milk hasn't come to dominate the sector, but that doesn't mean the lower pricing might not create pressure on other suppliers to lower their prices to at least appear competitive.

While Coles emerged unscathed from that round, the supermarket sector is still carefully scrutinised by the ACCC. This year Coles has been penalised for not identifying imported vegetables accurately and taken to court for allegedly claiming bread baked in store when it was actually cooked elsewhere. One common objection to store brands is that they're often imported rather than Australian produce, but that doesn't apply in the fresh milk market.

With milk, it isn't as simple as a "supermarkets versus everyone else" scenario. Earlier this year, Coles signed a 10-year deal with dairy supplier Murray Goulburn to provide its store brand milk. Under that deal, as well as selling its own brands, Coles will begin selling Devondale-branded milk under an exclusive arrangement. I can't see why anyone would pay more for the premium brand, but current sales data suggests I'm in the minority.


Comments

    They did a segment on the chaser about this. They asked people why do you buy premium milk?

    From what i can recall the majority of answers were around wanting to support aussie farmers, so basically trying to do something nice for their fellow countryman

    however the segment then went on to show that the biggest benefactors when premium milk is purchased were the production companies and that the flow on effect to the farm gate was negligible.

    Of course there were some 'co-op' production brands where the flow on effect was greater but still pretty minimal imho.

    Myself? I buy the cheapest 2l milk on offer unless i need a specific variant for cooking (buttermilk/goats milk/etc) as i dont use that much milk and often 2 litres is cheaper or the same as 1litre.

    However if i was able to buy milk direct from the farmer that was just as safe (homgenised/pasteurised) at a higher price (up to +75%) I would

      I'd tend to agree with this. When the end result / impact to the actual producer is negligible, what's the point in supporting higher profits for the end chain corporation? I buy Coles/Woolies brand milk pretty much exclusively, but if there was an option to directly support the farms (i.e. cut out the middleman) that'd be a nice option that I'd consider taking up.

      Until then... $1 P/Litre it is.

      They also found that Coles/Woolworths actually make a higher profit when you purchase the non-store brands.

    I bought a bunch of the long-life Coles branded milk recently, and it tasted weird, a bit sourish. All the cartons were like that. If it actually tasted good I'd have no qualms about switching over.

    Living in an area with a large number of dairy farmers and being someone who resents our supermarket duopoly, I deliberately avoid house brand groceries, in particular dairy products.

    Less Than One-Quarter Of The Milk We Buy Is Supermarket-BrandedNow tell us the percentage of buyers for each brand..? Wouldn't mind betting that the house brand being cheaper is the best seller..? Particularly by lower income types who go for the bargain on all things regardless... and why wouldn't they...?

      You'd have to do that per-state to make it fair though. I think you eastern-staters get Peter's brand over there? Meanwhile in Perth we get Harvey Fresh, which I doubt you get over east

        Yeah I was talking more generally than specific brands. In other words Home brand vs the rest... :)

    Being from WA, I always buy Harvey Fresh milk and try and buy WA produce wherever possible. I really don't see the point to shipping milk and other items across the country when we produce plenty in our own state. It is a waste of resources.

      Except that Harvey Fresh milk tastes like hairy goats balls :/

        Never tried it. The hair doesn't sound very tasty.

    This bites. I go out of my way to buy Riverina Fresh (1st pref), Paul's, Pura, in that order to try and help bump the farm gate prices back to the dairy farmers. How the heck do we help to get our own food bowl back so we don't end up reliant on 100% imports! Even though I'm conscious most of the major dairy processors are no longer Australian owned.

    It's childish but the reason I don't buy the homebrand stuff is because it has the coles/woolworths logo on it. Both brands annoy me enough (coles especially) that'll I'll avoid anything with their sticker on it on general principle. Fickle of course but it keeps me happy.

    Did you know the premium brands are probably not Australian owned? Pauls is owned by an Italian multinational for example.

    Wow. So many of you willingly pay more.

    I buy the absolute cheapest that there is, as long as it's pure milk. No way am I spending more than I have to on the staples. It's not like you notice any difference with 'premium' milk. It's exactly the same product. It's like buying Uncle Toby's oats. Why would you when the home brand oats are 100% the same product at about 15% of the price?

      Having used home brand oats and Uncle Toby's, they are very different products. I remember Choice doing a study on Home Brand products, particularly staples, which showed them to be inferior in quality. Probably this doesn't extend to pure, fresh milk. But compare home brand butter next to a more expensive brand. Compare a cake made with home brand flour versus a better brand. How do they make home brand so much cheaper? I'm sure some of it is lower profit margins for the company, but it is also cheaper production. How do you produce cheaper? By sifting less shit out of oats and flour, etc.

        Lol- dudes, it's all in your heads. Milk is milk. oats are oats. Seriously what do you think uncle toby's are adding to make oats tastier?

        Because if they were, it wouldn't be oats anymore.

        Cakes are different. There are many ingredients. But flour is flour. It's exactly the same. Pay more if you like. The only difference between your flour and my flour is that I paid less money.

      If they're exactly the same product why do they taste different?

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