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Farm 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; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviour; and freedom 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. Suppliers are audited under the Coles Farm Program against the information they have provided including animal welfare practices such as low stress handling practices. Coles undertakes audits of a minimum of 10 per cent of supplier sites each year under the Coles Farm Program.

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 (above the 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.