Country of origin food labelling evaluation begins

The Federal Government has begun an evaluation of Australia’s country of origin food labelling system to make sure it’s working for both Aussie consumers and businesses.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the evaluation would help determine if the new system which came into effect in 2018 was helping Australians as intended.

“Consumers made it known they wanted to understand in a clear and simple way where their food is grown and processed,” Minister Andrews said.

“Our Government responded with comprehensive reforms to the country of origin labelling system and now we’re making sure it’s delivering as intended.

“While this evaluation was planned since the reforms were introduced, it is particularly timely as COVID-19 has seen a ground-swell in support for Australian Made food.

“This is about making sure consumers are being given the tools they need to make an informed choice, without crippling Australian businesses with unreasonable and expensive labelling expectations.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said it would be good to ensure the reforms are delivering the right information to consumers so they can choose to support our agriculture sector and regional Australia.

“When consumers buy Australian goods, they aren’t just supporting those manufacturers, but also our farmers, truck drivers and regional communities more broadly,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We know that so many Aussies are more determined than ever to buy domestically made products like bacon and cheese, and Australian grown products like seafood and flowers. It’s important that it as simple as possible for them to do that, without placing undue burden on business.

“Agriculture and manufacturing is at the heart of many regional communities, so we want to make sure that the country of origin labelling system is delivering its intended objectives.”

The evaluation of country origin labelling for food will consider if the labels are helping consumers make more informed choices, as well as clarifying the origin claims that businesses can make, while avoiding excessive costs for businesses which will be passed onto shoppers.

The consultation will include surveys, consumer focus groups and interviews with industry and government.

A discussion paper and an opportunity to provide views is available at consult.industry.gov.au until 11 September. The evaluation is expected to be completed by mid-2021.

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