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Coles milk scandal: Minister calls for supermarket boycott

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud has called on consumers to boycott Coles until the supermarket giant agrees to pay drought-stricken farmers more for their produce.

His calls come after the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) last week found the retailer had failed to pass on the full 10c per litre milk levy to Norco dairy farmers.

The supermarket has agreed to pay farmers more than $5 million following the shortchanging.

But Mr Littleproud wants Coles to pay dairy farmers an extra 20c per litre.

It comes just weeks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he doesn’t support secondary boycotts.

Con Stavros, Associate Professor in Marketing at RMIT, said a boycott against the supermarket giant probably won’t force change.

“If you’ve got a very small firm, a new firm, you can do some damage there because they can’t really ride it out,” he said.

“But for a big brand, like Coles, I suspect they’d be able to sustain and deal with the boycott pretty well.

“You can make some noise and if you get enough people together that starts to put some pressure on them.

“They might then think, look, let’s go a little bit further and give more money than we said we were going to give.”

But Mr Stavros said the frequency of retailer boycotts today has reduced consumer adherence to them.

“Because it’s so easy to do so many brands get boycotted,” he said.

“So for consumers there is a little bit of fatigue around it because you’re angry at one brand, then a couple of days later you’re angry at another, and the cycle moves pretty quickly.”

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Coles caught out: Supermarket failed to pass on 10c milk levy to dairy farmers

Image: William West