The Federal Court found the supermarket giant had deceptively represented bread that had been partially baked and frozen off-site, promoting it as “Baked Today, Sold Today” or “Freshly Baked In-Store” in proceedings brought on by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Coles had already been slapped with a three year ban preventing it from advertising its bread as freshly baked, and was ordered to display signs saying it had breached Australian consumer law.
Coles said today in a statement it did not mean to mislead anybody.
“In talking to customers about our bread range we did not deliberately set out to mislead anybody but we accept that we could have done a better job in explaining how these products are made,” a Coles spokesman said.
Coles changed its packaging and instore signage last year, the spokesman said.
Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said the penalty sends a strong message to companies that they should not use broad phrases in promotions that are deliberately chosen to sell products to consumers but which are likely to mislead consumers.
“As the Chief Justice pointed out, it is important that sellers in the market recognise that consumers are entitled to reliable, truthful and accurate information,” Sims said.
“The ACCC took this action because it was concerned that Coles’ “Baked Today, Sold Today” and “Freshly Baked In-Store” claims about its par baked bread were likely to mislead consumers. The conduct also placed independently-owned and franchised bakeries that entirely bake bread from scratch each day at a competitive disadvantage.”