CHOICE survey results highlight country of origin issue in Aussie supermarkets

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has released the results of their survey into the country of origin of product ingredients comparing home-branded products from Coles and Woolworth’s private labels with leading supplier brands.

This debate has been raging for quite some time, with The Age newspaper conducting an investigation earlier this year that found one in every four grocery items now sold in Australian supermarkets is private label and of those, about one in two is imported.

A poll accompanying the article found that an overwhelming number of respondents would pay more for home-brand products that they knew were produced in Australia from local ingredients.

CHOICE looked at more than 360 products across a variety of grocery categories, including cereals, biscuits, snacks, tinned foods and frozen packaged food, matching private label products with their equivalent market leader.

According to CHOICE, just 55% of Coles’ products and 38% of Woolworths’ products were grown or manufactured locally, compared with 92% of market leader groceries.

According to CHOICE, “for products to claim they are ‘made’ in Australia, the product must have undergone substantial transformation and 50% of processing costs here. If the product includes ingredients from outside Australia, or the specified country of origin, ‘imported ingredients’ must be noted on the packaging, however the exact source of such ingredients is not required”

Coles and Woolworths have faced on-going criticism due to the aggressive promotion and marketing of their private label products, with some brands feeling the supermarket giants have unfairly used their power to promote their own labels over other established brands.

Business information research firm IBISWorld has forecasted that the share of private-label products will account for over 30 per cent of all Australian supermarkets sales by 2017-18.

Read more about the survey at CHOICE.

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