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Coles in Facebook farmer backlash

One consumer’s comment on supermarket giant Coles’ Facebook page about the impact of its price cuts on farmers has gone viral.

The comment, made by Jane Burney, the wife of a dairy farmer, was posted on Friday evening. By the time of Coles’ official response on Monday morning, the comment had gained over 73,000 ‘likes’ and 4,500 comments.

Burney’s comment:

Dear Coles,
Your $1 per litre of milk deal is killing the lifeblood of our dairy industry. The ramifications of it are finally rearing their ugly head. Dairy Farmers has announced it’s price for Tier 2 milk at 13 cents per litre. This is not sustainable in an industry where costs of production can be as high as 30 cents per litre. The consumer is paying $1 a litre and the only winner here is the supermarket. It is time for us to go back to the old fashioned way; in which we bought real milk that tastes like milk; no permeate and where our fruit and vegetables were grown in our beautiful country. Stocking garlic from China, Argentina. What is going on? Obviously it is cheaper to buy it from overseas then from our country; grown in God knows what. And for our farmers and the towns they support and encourage capital growth; it is heartbreaking. Your latest ad campaign sprouting that you support Aussie growers in insulting. You are misleading the public in how you support Aussie growers. Not only have you ruined the fresh milk market but you have also lowered the price on your cheese and butter. The only winner here is you. Eventually all the Aussie growers you so called support will be out of business. Dairy farmers who work 7 days a week, 14 hours a day, who have been dairy farming their whole life, whose cows are their whole life will have to stop farming as it is no longer economically viable to continue. Our “fresh”produce will be flown in. The consumer will be stuck buying expensive, overseas produce. What will happen to our economy and our country towns? I urge people to think about what they buy. The more Australian made produce we buy, the more our money stays here and benefits us. Your $1 milk is a nail in an already suffering coffin. I am ashamed to watch you ads and us farmers burn in resentment when we do so.

The responses to the comment have not all been in support or agreement, but the length of time between the initial comment and Coles’ response means that the initial comment had been reposted by others over 40 times at time of writing, and had reached a huge audience before the official reply was published.

A Coles spokesperson told Mumbrella: “Social media activism has become an effective channel for groups to gather a collective voice with incredible pace. The recent activity on our Facebook page is an example of this. We take such feedback very seriously and emphasises how important it is for us to clearly communicate the extent to which Coles supports Australian farming. We consider social media is an important way for us to speak and listen to our customers and our policy has always prioritised open information. This means we never delete posts and respond as swiftly as possible.”

This isn’t the first time Coles has been involved in a social media backlash, but the scale of this response is such that industry commentators have suggested the possibility of it being part of an organised activist movement.

Coles response

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