Coles cut the price of home brand milk to $1 a litre in January, sparking a price war between the country’s largest supermarkets and a Senate inquiry aimed at finding out if lower prices will slash dairy farmers’ incomes and affect the quality of milk.
In the meantime, consumer watchdog Choice has done its own research, asking 30 adults to taste test six reduced-fat milk brands and six full-cream brands, half of which were supermarket brands.
The 12 brands were selected on the basis of how much shelf space they took up across supermarket chains, Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said.
Participants did not know which brand of milk they were tasting when they took part in the test, which was conducted in March.
Results found participants could not taste the difference between the supermarket brands and the premium brands.
“You are not sacrificing drinking taste when you spend less on your milk,” Ms Just said.
But testers did find a greater difference between the taste of the reduced-fat milk products, compared with the full-cream varieties.
“Reduced-fat milks are more highly processed; there is a greater variation in the sugar and fat levels of reduced fat milks than full-cream milk products,” Ms Just said.
“This may explain the differences between the taste of reduced fat milk.”
Choice said the results of the March taste test supported previous tests it had conducted in 2009, which found supermarket brands tended to be rated just as good, if not better, than the market leaders in their categories.
All three of Australia’s big milk processors have submitted to the Senate inquiry that the price cut will hurt the sector.