GROWERS are outraged at a new marketing push by Coles supermarkets that they claim degrades the image of fresh produce.
VFF horticultural group president Sue Finger said the clear inference of the Coles slogan was that some fresh fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets and greengrocers' shops was not truly fresh, but instead had been frozen during storage.
"Fresh is fresh, never frozen and thawed," Ms Finger said yesterday.
"Nothing could be further from the truth; anyone who tries to undermine that image for the sake of market advantage is underselling Australian growers."
The supermarket chain announced its "there's no freshness like Coles freshness" campaign late last month, with the new "we never freeze" line appearing this week in advertisements in newspapers, online and on TV.
Coles head of communications Jon Church said last night the push to advise consumers that none of its fresh produce was ever frozen was based on sound research and the need for some education and myth-busting.
"Our customer research highlights that many Australians mistakenly think that fresh produce is sometimes frozen and then thawed, which is why we set about dispelling the myth and showing how we often get our fruit and vegetables from farm to store in less than 24 hours," Mr Church said.
"Frankly, instead of attacking Coles, the VFF should get behind our campaign, which will help more Australian growers sell more quality fruit and veg."
Yesterday's attack by the VFF on the Coles conglomerate follows deep anger in farming circles over the past fortnight at Coles's decision to slash the price of many fruit and vegetable items by 50 per cent.
Farmers fear the discount pricing will lead to lower-value contracts paid at the farm gate and squeeze growers out of business.
Coles in turn says the company will absorb the losses on discount prices instead of passing them on to growers, but will not issue the requested "iron-clad" price guarantee.
Read more on The Australian.