The Problem With Coles and Woolworths' Phantom Wine Brands

In the world of wine, the story behind the bottle can be just as important as the liquid inside.  However, these quirky stories are not always what they seem! Australian supermarkets Coles and Woolworths, stock hundreds of wine brands that seem independent, but they are actually all owned by them!

Phantom wine brands Own brands in disguise

This was revealed on an ABC Four Corners on 19 February 2024.  Check out the program if you have not already, it's eye opening and exasperating - see a link at the end here to watch the episode.  


What are Phantom Brands?

Phantom brands are essentially home brands in disguise. They are created by supermarkets to give the impression of diversity and choice on their shelves.  Phantom brands are different to "own brand" because they do not display the supermarket's brand or logo, creating the impression of being independent brands.  These brands often lack transparency about their true origins. In the case of Coles, it was accused of suggesting some wines are made in places where they are not.

The Four Corners episode featured one example of the Two Churches brand that tells a historical story about the Barossa, but the wine is not from a Barossa winery.  The address of the maker is actually Coles headquarters in Melbourne!

Coles and Woolworths through Endeavour Drinks, Dan Murphy’s, Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice, Liquorland, Woolworths Liquor and BWS stores dominate wine retailing in Australia, with hundreds of phantom wine brands.

We found a fantastic resource on The Real Review website, with a list of hundreds of wine brands owned by Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and other majors Thank you!

And it doesn't stop at wine, it is happening with shadow factories making spirits and beer also for the major supermarkets' own brands.


The Victims

Why does Biome care about this?  Because when you cloud the waters about any aspect of where, why, how and who made a product, the environment and society are the losers. 

The victims of misleading behaviour are numerous:

Consumers: Consumers are misled into believing we are purchasing a product from a small, independent producer, rather than a supermarket-owned brand. This can influence our purchasing decisions and perceptions of the product’s quality, and the price we are prepared to pay.

Independent Winemakers: Independent winemakers can suffer as these phantom brands can undercut them on price, making it harder for them to compete. Furthermore, the misleading stories on the packaging can devalue the authentic narratives and hard work of these independent winemakers.

The Wine Industry: The wine industry relies on trust and authenticity. When consumers discover we have been misled, it can damage trust in the industry as a whole.


The Environment: Misleading information about where a product is made and by whom can have significant environmental implications. When consumers believe a product is locally made, we assume it has a lower carbon footprint due to reduced transportation distances.  This misinformation can lead consumers to unknowingly support practices that contribute to increased emissions and environmental degradation.

What Can You Do?

In contrast to the practices of the major supermarkets, Biome is dedicated to finding solutions to environmental problems and scrutinising products to uncover green-washing, hidden toxins, and dubious ingredients. We strive to provide customers with full transparency so that you can weigh up the information and make choices that balance what is best for you and our world.

To be frank, consumers should not have to go to any special effort. The truth around a product should be made abundantly clear.

 "The test under law is: Would a reasonable consumer be misled?" 


Educate Yourself

Reading our blog post is a great start, thank you!  Also, learn more about the common tactics used by supermarkets with this ABC article,  and learn to identify phantom brands.  

tactics used by Coles and Woolworths to maintain their market power


Check the Trademarks Database

Government agency, IP Australia, is the registry for trademarks and it has an excellent, easy to access, free database search.

Woolworths Group Limited owns 1,770 trademarks - go to the Woolworths trademark search results

Coles Group owns 1,321 - go to the Coles trademark search results


Support Independent Retailers

By choosing to buy directly from ethical and sustainable retailers like Biome and many other small responsible retailers, consumers can support businesses that value transparency and sustainability.

We need to keep independent small business alive or we will ultimately lose all choice.


Buy Direct from the Maker

Or check their list of stockists to find one local to you.


Report Misleading Behaviour

If you believe that have been misled, you can report the behaviour to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).   

Here is where you can make a report to the ACCC.

Read The Labels and Vote With Your Dollars

It's inconvenient to write to brands, and unlikely they'll pay any attention.  But they notice your dollars!!  Use your purchasing power to demand more transparency by avoiding brands that are not.  As a start, look at the address on the back of the wine label of where it is registered to.

In this case of this Two Churches wine that is a Coles Phantom brand, they are making it extremely hard because they even use a phantom business name "James Busby Fine Wines". 

Coles Phantom Brand Two Churches


In conclusion, while the tactics used by Coles and Woolworths with their phantom wine brands are concerning, consumers have the power to demand change.  By staying informed and making conscious purchasing decisions, consumers can support authenticity and transparency in the retail industry.


Here's the Four Corners Episode



The Tactics Used by Coles and Woolworths to Maintain Their Power Over Australia's Grocery Market

Inside the 'shadow' factories making alcohol for the big liquor chains - ABC News

Phantom brands haunting our supermarket shelves as home brand in disguise (

Back to blog

New arrivals

1 of 12