Coles fights claims of coercion by South Australia's Agriculture Minister
Company plans to stop buying pork from sow stall users by 2014
Australian supermarket chain Coles said it has made plans to phase out pork from producers using sow stalls beginning in 2011, with the goal of being completely sow stall free by 2014.
South Australia (SA)'s Agriculture Minister, Michael O'Brien, said he fears many pork producers will suffer financially as a result of these plans. "These producers were basically told, 'If you don't comply with what Coles want then we may actually go elsewhere,'" he said. "There was a high degree of coercion imposed in getting this particular outcome. [Producers are] unhappy with it and it's going to place them under enormous financial stress."
But Ministry claims that Coles' actions could ruin the SA pork industry are unfounded, said Coles spokesman Jim Cooper. "We're one of the biggest supporters of the South Australian pork industry," he said. "We buy fresh pork from about 50 farmers in South Australia. We have worked with them. They are comfortable with the process."
Coles General Manager of Meat Allister Watson said Coles has been working with suppliers for months to phase out sow stalls. "We are working with our growers to ensure they avoid onerous costs in changing how they raise pigs," he said. "Changes will therefore take time to complete, but Coles and its suppliers are stepping heavily in the right direction."