Coles wants video cameras on Aussie farms

In an ABC Radio interview yesterday, Coles quality manager Jackie Healing called for video cameras on Australian farms. I asked the Twitterverse to add to my list of questions for the retail superpower and sent the following email to Ms Healing and Coles PR contact, Jon Church:

Hi Jackie,

As a dairy farmer and blogger, I was fascinated to see that you are advocating a Tesco-style approach, including video cameras on farm. Would you care to answer some questions for The blog is now quite popular with both farmers and consumers who would, I am sure, be equally as interested in exploring the topic further.

  1. What do you consider are the benefits of video cameras on farm?
  2. Do you see any potential problems?
  3. Do you have any concerns that practices in the best interests of animals (restraint for vaccinations or veterinary procedures, for example) could be misconstrued by viewers?
  4. Do you anticipate Australian farmers will volunteer to host the cameras?
  5. Have you discussed the possibility of cameras with farmer organisations? If so, what has been the response?
  6. If Australian farmers do not volunteer to host the cameras, how will Coles respond?
  7. Does Coles plan to offer education for consumers about animal husbandry practices?
  8. Where would cameras be mounted on a typical 500-acre dairy farm?
  9. How would the dairy supply chain need to be “remodelled”?
  10. Will Coles install cameras in the food preparation areas of supermarkets?

I shall post the questions online tomorrow and would be delighted to add your answers, provided they are no more than 100 words each and reach me by COB tomorrow. If this doesn’t suit, please let me know and I will do my best to provide a balanced response.

It will be interesting to see whether Coles is happy to elaborate, don’t you think?

15 thoughts on “Coles wants video cameras on Aussie farms

  1. The sooner Australian Dairy Farmers get together and form a cooperative to process and Export your Milk into the lucrative Ingredients market as has Fonterra done in New Zealand. China cannot get enough N.Z. produced Infant Milk formula and Supermarkets have a three can restriction on how many cans you can buy at any one time because Chinese people in Nz are sending these products back to China. Climb onto the Gravy train Austalia and get AVOID the Buyers Control you seem to have in Australia. We do not have such unsustainable farm gate Milk prices in New Zealand. If so our Farmers would be walking away also. Fonterra are a Cooperative and are active World Wide. They are a TOTALLY FARMER OWNED ORGANISATION and only Farmers who are suppliers to Fonterra can own shares in Fonterra. They do have competition and some farmers supply others such as Synlait who also EXPORT thier output.


    • You’re right, Ray. A powerful cooperative is essential. We do have the Murray Goulburn Co-operative, which is 100% owned by Australian dairy farmers. MG produces the Devondale range of dairy foods and accounts for about 35% of Australian milk. It doesn’t accept milk from farmers right around the country though.

      As far as China is concerned, you Kiwis have the advantage of a free trade agreement. We do not and are therefore, 15% behind the eight-ball.


      • What is the problem with your Labour Govt in Canberra over a China Free trade agreement as it was a LABOUR GOVt in N.Z. who set that ball rolling here and our Parliament supported the concept. I can see there are logistic problems for a single cooperative such as Fonterra for Australia. However it seems that NSw and Qld have nothinh in the way of a Goulburn Valley etc. Also dont forget the large export industry in N.Z. of live Dairy Heifers to China and other places from Nz. No wonder cows are fetching $2,500 each!


  2. This is classic stage magician stuff. Misdirection. Coles know that the public is getting to be more on the farmers side, that the big corps are screwing the primary producers.
    Solution? Make the farmer the bad guy, or at least insinuate enough that Coles looks like the sharing caring animal welfare big brother.


    • I only hope that we don’t end up with the UK model that Jackie Healing praises, which has forced desperate farmers there to blockade supermarkets with their tractors.


    • Can I suggest to all of you in Australia to find out what Tesco are requiring from N.Z. along these lines because I am certain that one or two of the well known English Supermarket chains do source Lamb and beef from Nz and directly market it. A good place to try coiuld be Meat Exporter cooperative called SILVER FERN FARMS LTD. They are in a big way. There is a lot of difference between the slaughter of Animals at an abboitoir as opposed to a General Survellience on an Australian Dairy Farm. Good old coporate Control again! Coles are coming accross as being too tough and unrealistic.


  3. I agree it’s smoke and mirrors… if it eventuates it’ll be more along the lines of public relations – “Look, we have farmer friends” – in fruit, vegetables, beef, lamb and dairy. But I *seriously* doubt they’ll show *live* footage of pigs and chickens.


    • I’d normally agree, Sharon, but Tesco, the UK supermarket chain discussed by the Coles executive in the ABC radio interview does force farmers to have video surveillance and the Coles management team now has an awful lot of ex-Tesco executives.


      • Why do Coles want video cameras on Australian Dairy Farms? No such suggestions here in N.Z. at all. We have NAIT with electronic ear tags from July 1st so the animal can be traced at all times from birth to plate etc. I was of the opinion that Australia had a similar system in place before we did here. What do Coles believe they are attempting to accomplish? There is plenty of rules governing Animal husbandry etc along with effluent controls etc. We dont have Coles in Nz but do have Woolworths Australia with thier Countdown Supermarkets which there are plenty of and Nationwide. The UK has been dealt to because of Europe and thier stupid subsidies. There are NO SUBSIDIES for Farming in N.Z. since 1984. That includes Beef, sheep, dairy.


  4. A great list! A big one to add to that list … As Coles themselves are aware, IT costs for such systems are quite hefty … Who will pay for the cabling to (and across) the farm as well as the significant broadband required to host such a setup? Will it be part of a larger farm to fork initiative, thus allowing consumers to follow the process from farm, to transport, processor, logistics warehouse, storeroom and back of store preparation areas?


    • Those are really valid points, xntrek. It would be great if you would ask Coles, either via Twitter (@Coles) or by sending Jackie Healing an email at ‘’. The more queries they get, the more seriously they will take our concerns.


  5. Big Brother spreading his net ever wider. I’d love to see the response to the question about putting cameras in the food prep area of Coles.


  6. Pingback: Coles is making my blood boil | Clover Hill Dairies Diary

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