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Sourcing responsibly, with a focus on animal welfare and the environment

Coles understands the importance of having mechanisms in place to responsibly source Coles own brand products and ingredients in order to protect human rights, safeguard animal welfare and minimise environmental impacts.

Certified products and ingredients

Where Coles sources tea, coffee, cocoa and palm oil for Coles own brand, it is committed to using independent and internationally recognised certification programs in order to support ethical practices and environmental protection in these supply chains.

Coles’ Palm Oil Policy outlines its commitment to support the production of sustainable palm oil through the use of certified sustainable palm oil and palm derivatives. Coles is a member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil and has embraced its principles and criteria for sustainable palm oil production. All Coles own brand food and drink products now contain or support sustainable palm oil through the physical supply chain options of Identity Preserved, Segregated and Mass Balance. Coles is also pursuing sustainable palm oil and palm derivatives in Coles own brand homecare, health, beauty and baby products. While these changes are being made, palm oil in Coles own brand non-food products is offset through PalmTrace certificates which support sustainable palm oil farmers and processes.

Coles utilises independent certification programs in sourcing cocoa, coffee and tea to ensure these commodities are sourced ethically and sustainably, and to help grow a market for independently certified products such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. All Coles own brand loose tea and tea bags are from certified sources, and the business is committed to using certified coffee and cocoa in all Coles own brand coffee, cocoa and chocolate products by 2020.

Coles Sustainable Timber and Paper Products Policy sets out Coles’ expectations regarding the use and supply of timber and timber pulp-based paper products for Coles own brand products. Customer receipts at all Coles supermarkets, Coles Express and liquor outlets are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council Standard. Coles has committed to working towards using only timber or paper sourced from sustainable forestry operations independently certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or recycled fibre by 2020.

Animal welfare

Coles cares about how the food it sells is produced and sourced. The business is committed to working towards a sustainable future that supports local farmers and food producers, while looking after the welfare of animals.

Coles’ Animal Welfare Policy, which is based around the five freedoms (freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; to express normal behaviour; from fear and distress), sets out Coles’ expectations regarding the treatment of animals and aquaculture species in the meat, fresh produce and grocery products supply chains for all Coles own brand products. The Policy details Coles' commitment to source animal and aquaculture products from farming operations that have a high standard of animal welfare and, where appropriate, hold animal welfare certification. It also specifies that no Coles own brand products are to be tested on animals.

The Coles Farm Program provides a mechanism for Coles to work with its suppliers to support continuous improvement. Under the Program, species and product specific steering committees have been established. Each year farmers complete a self-assessment identifying challenges and opportunities to be addressed, such as on-farm energy management, animal welfare measures and integrated pest management.

Coles works with the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme to offer customers a range of humanely farmed Coles own brand products including fresh chicken, free range pork and turkey. The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme establishes higher welfare standards (beyond legislative requirements) and commercially achievable production standards for pigs, chicken and turkeys. Coles was the first national supermarket to launch RSPCA Approved Coles own brand chicken in 2014, following with other products including turkey.

In 2014, Coles was also the first Australian supermarket to deliver all Coles own brand fresh pork as sow stall-free and free from artificial growth promotants.

Coles own brand free-range pork is the only RSPCA Approved fresh pork stocked nationally by an Australian supermarket.

All Coles own brand eggs have been cage-free since 2013. They are either barn-laid or free-range. Coles is also working with proprietary egg suppliers to increase production of cage-free eggs.

All Coles own brand beef in the meat departments has been 100 per cent Australian sourced with no added hormones since 2011. Graze, Coles beef speciality range, is 100 per cent Australian, grass-fed, free to roam and with no added hormones.

Coles also understands that the responsible use of antibiotics in agriculture is an important issue for animal and human health. In 2014, Coles was the first Australian supermarket retailer to implement a policy to remove the use of antibiotics for the purposes of promoting growth in livestock and it only allows suppliers to use antibiotics for animal health purposes under veterinary supervision.

Responsibly sourced seafood

Coles understands that well-managed and responsible fishing is essential to maintaining healthy fish populations and habitats, and to ensure the future sustainability of marine ecosystems.

All Coles own brand seafood has been responsibly sourced since 2015. Different programs and certifications ensure potential impacts on marine health and the environment are carefully monitored. All Coles own brand seafood products have Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification, or meet Coles Responsibly Sourced Seafood criteria.

Coles was awarded the MSC’s Best Sustainable Seafood Supermarket in Australia in September 2017.