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Coles praised for produce innovation amid calls for wider change

Coles has been praised for implementing a new award-winning approach to selling fresh produce, with customers calling for it to be rolled out to all their stores across the country.

The supermarket recently won the award for the Most Innovative Supermarket at the Finder Innovation Awards for 2021.

The award recognises that the supermarket's Moonee Ponds store, which was designed to set a new standard in sustainability and help create opportunities to reduce Coles' environmental impact into the future.

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that the Victorian store's approach to produce is aimed to reduce waste and offer produce preparation.

Coles Moonee Ponds has a fruit and veg bar where customers can have their healthy fruit and veg sliced, diced or riced right in front of them, or squeezed into a freshly made juice,” the spokesperson said.

The supermarket's cheese, fruit and vegetable sections. Source: Coles
The cheese, fruit and vegetable sections in the Moonee Ponds store. Source: Coles

“The bar aims to produce the best juice and reduce waste by using fruit and vegetables at their ripest for juicing.”

The futuristic store also boasts a slew of sustainability initiatives, including reduced plastic packaging, reusable cardboard boxes available for customers to carry their shopping, and refill stations dispensing laundry soaps, body wash and the like.

Some of the stores other innovations include:

  • produce misting and cold plates that have enabled the removal and reduction of packaging from fresh produce;

  • natural refrigerant gas solutions virtually eliminating greenhouse gas emissions; and

  • trolley baskets that are made from 90 per cent recycled milk bottles and 10 per cent recycled plastic collected through REDcycle.

The flagship store has been dubbed a "must see" online, with visitors sharing videos of their walk-throughs on TikTok.

Supermarket customers pleased to learn of change

Social media activists, who have been calling for more disability-accessible and sustainable produce options, were pleased to learn of Moonee Ponds's initiatives.

Calls for disability-friendly options have become commonplace on supermarket Facebook walls, after an activist began petitioning to reduce plastic waste and make packaging more disability-accessible.

A Facebook post shared by blogger Foodie Mumma Ren yesterday, showed a photograph taken at Woolworths's produce refrigerators.

Sliced fresh produce in plastic packaging. Source: Facebook
A Facebook post has called on fresh produce to be cut on demand. Source: Facebook

In the photo, pre-cut vegetables, including potatoes can be seen.

“Time saver and very helpful for the elderly or people with disabilities,” the post said.

Another person shared the post, tagging Coles and challenging them to follow Woolworths's example.

“They need to do something similar to the deli with the fruit and vegetables - have an option of getting them chopped up on the spot, as you would with different meats and cheeses,” the person wrote.

Others pointed out in the comment section that this was already being done in the Moonee Ponds store.

From there, Facebook users rallied in support of the store's innovation, requesting that Coles implement these practices in all stores.

“That’s amazing,” commented one person.

“Every store needs to bring this in,” wrote another.

“It’d make cooking so much easier,” said a third.

Storefront view of Coles supermarket. Source: Getty Images
Upon learning of the innovations at the Moonee Ponds store, people on Facebook called for the changes to be made nationwide. Source: Getty Images

The social media community has been vocal in their support of plastic reduction and accessibility, with previous social posts directed at Coles slamming their use of plastic bags.

In response to an activist’s call to make packaging more accessible for disabled customers, a Coles spokesperson previously told Yahoo News.

“Coles continuously strives to improve the accessibility of our stores, sites and workplaces for our team members and customers with disability."

Disability rights organisation support Coles' changes

President of People With Disability Australia (PWDA) Samantha Connor has told Yahoo News that she supports supermarkets pre-cutting vegetables for disabled and elderly people.

A woman in a disability scooter with her shopping. Source: Getty Images
People with disabilities have called on supermarkets to be more considerate of their needs. Source: Getty Images

"During Covid we're trying to minimise contact with people so some people don't have support workers coming into their home as often," she said.

"It's not always possible to have someone come just to cut an apple, for example

"This isn't about laziness, but for a lot of us, the adjustments that people make everyday make a world of difference to people with disabilities."

"It would mean a lot to the community," she said.

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