Coles ended its 30-cent surcharge on its three-litre milk range as the clock ticked over into 2019, despite archrival Woolworths keeping its drought support equivalent in place.
“The drought did not end on December 31 and structural reform through a mandatory code of conduct is still progressing,” David Littleproud told The Weekly Times.
“Mums and dads want to help farmers out but Coles basically said they don’t care.
“There is no reason why Coles could not continue its scheme like Woolworths has.”
Mr Littleproud originally criticised Coles in October for only applying its drought scheme to three-litre bottles.
“It’s bad enough Coles refused to put the levy on its two- and one-litre milk in the first place and just shows they were brought kicking and screaming to do something to start with,” he said.
“Many farmers supplying Coles milk still haven’t seen a cent. Coles’ efforts to get it back to the farmers supplying the milk were dead lazy.
“Coles don’t deal directly with farmers — the processors do — and so the processors had to be involved to get the money back to the farmers.
A Coles spokesman said the supermarket “anticipated that all successful grants will be distributed by no later than 31 January 2019”.
“Since the fundraising period ended, Coles has contacted more than 600 dairy farmers to let them know their application to the Coles Dairy Drought Relief Fund has been successful,” the spokesman said.
“We asked farmers to confirm their banking details to ensure their approved funds get to them without delay when we distribute them.”
The Minister also took aim at Australia’s third-largest supermarket chain.
“Worse still, Aldi has refused to do anything, saying they wanted the Government to create a levy, but Woolworths have shown you don’t need government intervention to do the right thing,” Mr Littleproud said.
Aldi was contacted by The Weekly Times but the German retailer referred to previous comments calling for government reform of the dairy sector.