I'm here to talk to Allister Watson, the general manager of meat, who arrives with Jim Cooper, Coles' communications manager.
Watson and Cooper
play a dead bat to the accusations of scare-mongering.
The answer to these questions, as Watson and Cooper
well know, is a mix of concern, precaution and, in the case of Tasmania (as in the case of Coles), branding.
These days, Cooper
is careful to play down Coles'
"It's a cost that we wear across the business.
It doesn't get passed on specifically as part of the product to the customer," he says.
"We're not stupid.
When the company was recently attacked by a group calling itself the Animal Health Alliance
, Jim Cooper
took great pleasure in pointing out that the alliance was a front for the pharmaceutical behemoths who peddle the hormones.
Jim Cooper, the company spin doctor, quickly interjects that there's no accounting for taste.
The company's product is overwhelmingly grain-fed, after all.
Several industry insiders tell me that Coles
is looking at buying its own feedlots, and possibly abattoirs, to streamline operations and cut costs. (Watson and Cooper
neither confirm nor deny this.) If so, Coles might well pick them up cheaply.