How important is “Australian-Made” in food and drink? 

In the face of a looming recession, questions about price and value are at the forefront of consumers’ concerns. At the same time consumers are more aware of where their food comes from, and there is a growing desire to support local companies. How can brands capitalise on these  consumer sentiments?

Mintel’s Purchase Intelligence tool tells you what new products Australian consumers want to buy and why. Join us as our Senior Food and Drink Analyst, Megan Stanton delves into the topic of ‘Australian-made’ and how consumers judge this claim.

We will discuss

  • Which brands are doing “Australian made” well?
  • Which consumers are most interested in Australian made products?
  • Is the  per cent of Australian made ingredients important to consumers?
  • Will consumers pay for the benefit of ‘Australian-made’?

Click here and register now!

Australia Made joins forces with Primex Field Days

The Australian Made Campaign (AMCL) has announced its alliance with Primex Field Days, forming a new relationship to support and further promote the growth of the Australian agriculture sector.

Traditionally held at Casino in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Primex Field Days is one of Australia’s most diverse agricultural events, aimed at bringing city and rural communities together to showcase sustainable Australian primary production and food.

Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ben Lazzaro, said “Australian Made is delighted to welcome Primex Field Days on board. The demand for quality Australian Made agricultural machinery and clean green produce is continuing to grow, and Primex Field days allows exhibitors and attendees to participate in this growth.”

Mr Lazzaro continued, saying “Primex Field Days has helped to shape the success story that Australian agriculture has become today, and the inclusion of the Australian Made logo will only enhance this story.”

Evolving from a localised event to one of the country’s leading primary industries expos, Primex Field Days hosts more than 400 exhibitors and is attended by over 25,000 visitors each year.

Bruce Wright, Director of Primex Field Days, said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Australian Made Campaign to continue to support Australia’s local farming community in our world-class ‘food bowl’.

“Primex supports Australian agricultural manufacturers and producers on both a national and international level. Being one of Australia’s largest agricultural and primary industry events is what sets us apart from other events.”

With the current restrictions posed by COVID-19, Primex Field Days has adopted a virtual event business strategy, with the next physical show planned for 10-12 September 2020.

“We have all had to modify and rethink how we go about business due to COVID-19. This year we are excited to launch Primex’s Online Business Hub, a first for any field days event. The ‘virtual expo’ is designed to support all of our stakeholders and help local producers connect and do business.”

Australian Made welcomes support for Aussie manufacturers and exporters

The Australian Made Campaign Ltd (AMCL) has welcomed today’s announcement from the Federal Government outlining its commitment to support Australian manufacturers here and abroad.

The commitment will see AMCL receive up to $5M to promote the famous Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo in key export markets, as well as establishing trade mark registrations in the United Kingdom, European Union and Canada. The announcement also details the establishment of a Manufacturing Modernisation Fund aimed at assisting manufacturers access new technologies to expand and thrive into the future.

“It’s really encouraging to see this level of commitment to Australian manufacturers,” said Australian Made chief executive, Ben Lazzaro.

“It’s important that we foster a manufacturing environment that encourages and assists manufacturers to innovate and build on their success, as well as providing pathways to new markets. The end result being a healthy manufacturing sector, job creation and better access to markets.”

The famous green and gold kangaroo brand is ideally positioned to play a key role in the Government’s effort to support local manufacturers in Australia and those taking their goods abroad.

“The AMAG logo has a proven 33-year track record in making the ‘Australian connection’ here and overseas, so it makes real sense to enhance its effectiveness as export markets continue to open up for Aussie manufacturers,” said Lazzaro.

“While much work has been done in extending the reach of the AMAG logo domestically and into Asia, with the Government’s support, AMCL will be able to further strengthen Australia’s reputation for high-quality, clean, green products further afield.”

The AMAG logo is currently used by nearly three thousand businesses across thousands of products sold all over the world. It is also a central element of the Government’s recently introduced food labelling laws in Australia; it will therefore be featured on the labels of thousands of food products exported from Australia (in addition to the thousands of non-food Australian exports).

It is also a registered trade mark in USA, China, South Korea, Singapore and India, with legal proceedings having commenced to register it in 7 other Asian countries – Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

“AMCL looks forward to working with the Government to help deliver this initiative and help extend the reach of the AMAG logo and that of Aussie manufacturers and exporters,” said Lazzaro.

Australian grown trust mark aims to boost cider exports

People will soon be able to easily identify Australian cider makers, apple growers and pear growers with the launch of Cider Australia’s ‘100 per cent Australian grown’ trust mark.​

Cider Australia and Wine Australia worked closely to launch the brand proposition at the eighth annual Australian Cider Awards in early October.

The push to promote Australian made cider comes with help from the Australian government, which is investing $500,000 in the craft cider industry over two years to build a brand proposition and marketing strategy aimed at boosting exports.

The investment is part of the $50 million export and regional wine support package.

READ: Australian wine exports to Germany grow by $10 million in one year

Australian minister for agriculture and water resources David Littleproud said the new mark would boost Australian craft cider sales around the world.

“Australia is known for producing the best food in the world and now our cider makers can take advantage of that reputation.

“This is another way we’re showing customers they’re getting quality Aussie produce,” he said.

“This will put more demand on Aussie apples and pears, so growers can make a quid. Consumers want to support Aussie farmers and this empowers them to do that,” said Littleproud.

The purpose of the funding is to build knowledge of potential export markets and to develop improved understanding for accessing these markets.

Cider Australia and Wine Australia have engaged internationally experienced brand strategist, Guy Taylor, to develop a brand proposition to market Australian craft cider internationally that can be leveraged by Australian cider producers.

A further step will be to develop a Go-To-Market strategy and a ‘toolkit’ to assist producers to understand prospective export markets and navigate the rules and complexities associated with exporting to those markets.

The Australian wine sector has developed an international reputation and exports 61 per cent of its production.

The aim is to achieve growth through building export markets for the cider industry as well.

The program is designed to increase the number of producers exporting from 7 to 20, and increase export revenue from $16.5m to $20m by 2019-20.

 

Domino’s meets request from Australian government to publish detailed country of origin information

Domino’s has met a request from Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, to better display country of origin information.

At a Country of Origin Labelling roundtable in May — which included McDonalds, Subway, KFC and Domino’s  — major fast food outlets agreed to put country of origin information on their websites and apps, said Littleproud. 

“I asked fast food stores to give their customers country of origin information, and Domino’s delivered.”

In just a few months, Domino’s was the first major fast food outlet to voluntarily display greater country of origin information on its website and app.

READ: Country of origin food labelling surveillance to commence 

Customers now have the chance to check the percentage of Domino’s products that are Australian made. 

“This gives their customers the chance to choose Australian,” said Littleproud. 

“Aussies deserve to know which products are Australian especially as so many Australians use country of origin as a gauge of food quality.

“I hope the others get a slice of the action soon,” he said. 

New country of origin labelling requirements became mandatory for most foods on the 1st of July 2018.

But, low-priority foods including highly processed confectionary and snacks, tea, coffee, alcohol and other beverages are not subject to the legislation.

The government is encouraging fast food providers to voluntarily get on board.

Most Aussies look for food with Australian Made logo – research

New research from market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that as many 72 per cent of metro Australians make the effort to buy food or drink products with an Australian Made/Grown logo, while 17 per cent always make it a point to do the same.

Among the urban Australians who purchase products with the Australian Made/Grown logo, three in 10 (29 per cent) do so because the logo helps to instill trust in the product/brand, while one in four (25 per cent) believe that it builds the authenticity of a product.

With safety scares more frequent than ever, Mintel research shows that 28 per cent of urban Australians say that the Australian Made/Grown logo assures them of the health or safety level of food or drink products.

Meanwhile, the recent changes made to the Australian Made/Grown logo appear to have had a positive effect on Australian consumers with six in 10 urban Australians agreeing that the new percentage bar tells them clearly the proportion of ingredients in the product that are either local or imported.

However, homegrown products and services seem to have less of an effect on Australia’s iGeneration (post-Millennial) consumers. Just 19 per cent of urban Australian consumers aged 18-24 say that they are most likely to be influenced to purchase locally-made or grown products or services. Instead, bigger influencers for Australia’s iGens include products or services that provide convenience (40 per cent), or are from their favourite brand (34 per cent). In comparison, older generations are more inclined to feel strongly about local products or services as indicated by urban Australians aged 45-54 (39 per cent) and those 55 and above (56 per cent).

When it comes to winning the trust of Australia’s younger population, companies that pursue progressive policies or campaigns will be the winners of this race—particularly when it comes to fighting for equality. A whopping 71 per cent of urban Australians aged 18-34 say that gender equality is important to them, according to Mintel research. Indicating the need for more gender equality in Australia, as many as one in three (33 per cent) Australian females disagree that their gender is accurately represented in advertising, while over six in 10 (65 per cent) Australian females are concerned with the wage difference between men and women.

Finally, Mintel research shows that overall one third of (32 per cent) urban Australians say that their favourite brands play a big part in influencing their purchase decisions. And it is through friendship that brands can win consumer trust and loyalty. Mintel Trend ‘Accentuate the Negative’ discusses how brands across the world are turning negatives into positives by highlighting their mistakes and shortcomings, all in the name of trust and transparency.

 

Australian Made reminds shoppers buy Aussie this Easter

The Australian Made Campaign is encouraging all shoppers to have an ‘eggscellent’ time this Easter by celebrating Australian products and produce.

Whether visiting a supermarket, chocolatier or fishmonger, shoppers should look for the green-and-gold kangaroo logo this Easter, if they want to be sure what they are buying is genuinely Australian.

“The Australian Made, Australian Grown logo is a quick and easy reference tool shoppers can rely on if they want to buy products made and grown in Australia,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison said.

The logo can be found on some 20,000 products, which are also listed on the online product directory at www.australianmade.com.au.

Mr Harrison says the quality and safety standards for food production in Australia are some of the most stringent in the world and are part of the reason Australian food producers have earned themselves such stellar reputations.

“And if value for money is a key factor in your purchasing decision, Australian farmers, fishermen and manufacturers can deliver,” Mr Harrison said.

 

Australia Day – a great day to get behind the ‘green and gold’

If you want your Australia Day to be as authentic as possible, products carrying the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo should be a big part of the celebrations.

“Australia Day is just that – a special day where we celebrate all the great things about being Aussie and that includes all the great things we grow and make,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison, said.

 “It’s a very apt time for consumers wanting to support local farmers and manufacturers and the best way for consumers to know that what they’re buying is genuine Aussie is to look for the AMAG logo.” Mr Harrison added.

“We want consumers to look for the famous green and gold kangaroo logo whenever possible and to get behind the products and produce that our great country has to offer.”

The AMAG logo is the only registered country of origin certification for all products and produce made or grown in Australia. More than 2600 businesses are registered to use the AMAG logo, which can be found on some 20,000 products sold here and around the world.

“It’s great to see consumers starting their year off on the right foot by supporting Aussie producers on Australia Day but we also want to see that backing continue throughout the year – let’s make every day Australia Day,” Mr Harrison said.

Australian Made Campaign to provide ‘Accessing China’ webinar

The Australian Made Campaign has partnered with the New South Wales Business Chamber’s Export Growth China initiative to provide a live, interactive webinar aimed at helping Australian businesses make the most of export opportunities and access one of the largest markets in the world, China.

The webinar will explain how country of origin branding can help businesses market their products as genuinely Australian, primarily in China.

Attendees will learn about opportunities available to Australian Made licensees including Oz-Town, Aunew, Premium Australian Food, AusCham and AuShop. They’ll also find out more about Export Growth China, an initiative which gives Australian growers and manufacturers a new channel to market and helps get products or services in front of 1.3 billion Chinese buyers, in a low cost, low risk and practical way.

AMCL Deputy Chief Executive, Ben Lazzaro and Senior Manager, China Practice from Export Growth China, Sara Cheng will both be presenting the webinar and attendees will have the opportunity to ask them both questions at the end of the presentation.

“Our reputation for producing products and produce to high quality and safety standards is driving sales in Australia, but we’re also seeing a huge impact overseas – opportunities for exporters are booming,” Lazzaro said.

The webinar is free and will be held at 12pm AEST on Thursday, 4 August 2016.

More information is available here.

The Australian Made Campaign has partnered with the New South Wales Business Chamber’s Export Growth China initiative to provide a live, interactive webinar aimed at helping Australian businesses make the most of export opportunities and access one of the largest markets in the world, China.

The webinar will explain how country of origin branding can help businesses market their products as genuinely Australian, primarily in China.

Attendees will learn about opportunities available to Australian Made licensees including Oz-Town, Aunew, Premium Australian Food, AusCham and AuShop. They’ll also find out more about Export Growth China, an initiative which gives Australian growers and manufacturers a new channel to market and helps get products or services in front of 1.3 billion Chinese buyers, in a low cost, low risk and practical way.

AMCL Deputy Chief Executive, Ben Lazzaro and Senior Manager, China Practice from Export Growth China, Sara Cheng will both be presenting the webinar and attendees will have the opportunity to ask them both questions at the end of the presentation.

“Our reputation for producing products and produce to high quality and safety standards is driving sales in Australia, but we’re also seeing a huge impact overseas – opportunities for exporters are booming,” Lazzaro said.

The webinar is free and will be held at 12pm AEST on Thursday, 4 August 2016.

 More information is available here.

Sam Kekovich joins Australian Made Campaign

Australian media personality Sam Kekovich has teamed up with the Australian Made Campaign (AMCL) to encourage shoppers to look for the famous Australian Made, Australian Grown logo when they shop.

The well-known ‘Lambassador’ has taken to the airwaves for AMCL, voicing radio advertisements encouraging consumers to look for genuine Aussie products that carry the logo and buy with confidence.

“There’s nothing more Australian than supporting local products and produce by looking for the iconic green and gold kangaroo logo,” Kekovich said. “You know it makes sense to buy Aussie.”

The radio campaign comes just weeks before the introduction of the Federal Government’s new food labelling program, which will see nearly all food products made or grown in Australia carry the famous Australian Made, Australian grown logo.

“Sam has already been part of something quintessentially Australian in his role as ‘Lambassador’ so it was an obvious choice to get him on board,” AMCL Chief Executive Ian Harrison said.

“Hearing such a well-known Australian identity on radio, encouraging shoppers to buy genuine Australian products and produce will no doubt have an impact,” he said.

The Government’s new food labelling scheme commences on 1 July 2016. Business will have two years to transition to the new food labels.

Australian Made supports call for consistent branding of food for export

The Australian Made Campaign today welcomed comments made by Fortescue Metals Chairman, Andrew Forrest, at the Bao Forum for Asia on China’s Hainan Island this week, calling for Australia’s food and agriculture sectors to work together more closely to promote their products using a ‘Brand Australia’ strategy.

“The power of consistent branding, both here and overseas, cannot be overstated,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Mr Harrison said.

Mr Harrison said the already well-established Australian Made, Australian Grown logo should form part of the food labelling system envisaged by Mr Forrest, to provide consumers in markets everywhere with better surety of the true origin of the food they are purchasing.

“The iconic green-and-gold kangaroo logo has been clearly identifying Australian produce in export markets for 30 years with great success, so there is a pivotal role for the symbol to play in any ‘Brand Australia’ strategy,” Mr Harrison said.

“Australia enjoys a strong reputation internationally for its clean, green environment and high standards for the production of food, so it makes sense to place a strong emphasis on promoting the Australian brand and defending the authenticity of food supplied from this country.”

New verification technology to be used for food exports

DataTrace technology is set to be used for Australian export food & wine authentication, Security & Safety.

DataDot Technology Limited (DDT) says it is pursuing opportunities in the growing export food and wine authentication market through its newly established joint venture with Beston Pacific Group. 

DDT and Beston subsidiary company, Grape Ensembles (GE), have jointly established Brandlok Brand Protection Solutions, and over the next nine months Brandlok will develop labels and other devices to authenticate and provide information on wine, dairy, seafood, health food and meat products to be exported to China, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe and Middle East. 

DDT has granted an exclusive 5-year licence of its DataTrace authentication technology to Brandlok for incorporation into the labels and devices to prove authenticity for these exported products so that customers can track and trace the ingredients from paddock to plate and verify for themselves that the products are safe to eat.

Bruce Rathie, Chairman of DDT, said that the Brandlok joint venture and its arrangement with the new company BGFC focused on food exports to China and other markets represents a significant opportunity to capitalise on major concerns regarding food security, safety and counterfeiting in these emerging export markets.  

“We have seen a number of food and other product counterfeiting issues especially in places like China.”

“This technology is a mixture of labels, barcodes and apps that can be used on mobile devices allowing them to check the authenticity of what they are buying,” he said.

 

Opinion: Labelling changes fall short of what’s needed

Proposed changes to Australia’s Country of Origin Labelling system are a small step towards meaningful reform but fall short of giving Australian consumers information that genuinely identifies the true origins of a product’s ingredients.

The reforms, announced by the Government in July, include a mandatory requirement to display a diagram on Australian-manufactured food products that shows the proportion of Australian ingredients.
While this is an improvement on the current system, it also means that the only originating country that will be outlined on Australian-manufactured food products will be Australia. Consumers will not specifically know which ingredients are Australian, nor the specific originating countries of the non-

A 2012 survey conducted by consumer advocacy group CHOICE found that 71 per cent of respondents felt it was crucial or very important to know where food comes from. In AUSVEG’s view, the reforms do not give them that information. You could even argue that calling the proposed reforms a ‘Country of Origin Labelling’ system is misleading when you consider consumers will be none-the-wiser about the specific origins of specific ingredients.

Meaningful Country of Origin Labelling reform also needs to clarify some of the confusing information and terms that are provided to consumers on labels. AUSVEG has long called for the terms ‘Made from local and imported ingredients’ and ‘Made in Australia’ to be dropped, as they are ambiguous, confusing and provide no meaningful information about the origins of particular ingredients.

It is pleasing that the proposed reforms remove the term ‘Made from local and imported ingredients’. It is less pleasing, however, that ‘Made in Australia’ can still be used, when you consider just how confusing it is to consumers. This was highlighted by a video released by AUSVEG earlier this year, which showed how baffled everyday Australians were by the term.

The abovementioned CHOICE survey from 2014 also reinforced this, with only 12 per cent of respondents able to correctly identify the meaning of ‘Made in Australia’. While we note the Government’s proposal seeks to clarify the meaning of ‘Made in’, we remain of the view it should be scrapped altogether.

There are some sections of the business community who continue to oppose Country of Origin Labelling reform, claiming the cost of changing labels will be too high. This assertion does not stack up, particularly when you consider how readily and easily companies change packaging for promotion and marketing purposes. Such a flimsy excuse should not be allowed to hinder the implementation of more meaningful labelling reform. Indeed, many businesses would do well to heed the wishes of their customers and provide them with the country of origin information that they so clearly desire. That is unless of course they have something to hide.

In finishing, I would reiterate that the Government has taken a step in the right direction regarding food labelling, but the current proposal falls short of giving consumers what they want. With the Government confirming it will review its new system within two years, AUSVEG will continue pushing for the genuine Country of Origin Labelling system that Australians deserve.
 

Food packaging company scoops top business award

Integrated packaging company tna has won the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Eastern Australia. 

Awarded in recognition of tna’s commitment and dedication to innovation in the food industry, the judging committee praised the company’s hard work and pioneering approach that has been so instrumental in tna’s rise to be a worldwide leader in food packaging and processing.
 
Considered the world’s most prestigious business award, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year is the only truly global programme of its kind. tna received its award in the industry category. 

The judges described tna as an Australian icon and commended its focus on innovation in what is, traditionally, a conservative industrial market, to firmly establish itself as a leading light in the global food processing and packaging market.
 
Commenting on the award, Alf Taylor, co-founder and CEO of tna, said: “We are honoured and thrilled to win the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Eastern Australia. Through complete determination, sheer hard work and our desire to always ‘rethink the conventional’, we became a world-leading specialist of cutting-edge processing and packaging machinery, supporting food manufacturers in over 120 countries around the globe.”
 
Nadia Taylor, tna’s co-founder and director added: “Australians are truly great at innovating but often the biggest challenge is obtaining the funding to create that all-important first prototype. I’m so glad we never let go of our dream and were able to turn a revolutionary idea for packaging food products faster and much more efficiently into a reality and successful business. We’re delighted to receive the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award because it represents our persistence and our dedication, and we hope that inspires our fellow Australians to go after their dreams too.”
 
Entrepreneurs from more than 145 cities in over 60 countries across the globe participate in the scheme. This year, over 100 entrepreneurs competed in five regional programmes around Australia. 

Premium Australia Foods promotes Aussie-made to China

Beginning on the 15th of August, Australian Made Campaign Retail Supporter, Premium Australia Foods (PAF), will begin a major ecommerce campaign promoting Australian-made products to the Chinese market online, via the high-profile Chinese platform SFHT.

This promotion will compliment PAF’s online presence on some of the most successful online retail websites in China – Tmall, Amazon.cn, JD and YHD.

CoOL changes “a step closer” to recognising industry concerns: Ai Group

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has welcomed the retention of the “Made in Australia” claim, but said “cost will still be a significant factor.”

“Changes flagged by the Government to country of origin labelling on foods are a step closer to recognising consumer and industry concerns,” said Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) Confectionery Sector Head, Tim Piper.

The government approved the new labelling system last week, and there will be an initial voluntary take-up of the country of origin food labels will see changes appear on the shelves later this year.

Overall, the response to the announcement has been positive, but a few have expressed some concerns. Consumer advocacy group CHOICE says the new system looks less useful for consumers wanting information about any of the 195 countries that are not Australia.

Tim Piper says “while a good deal of detail remains to be considered, industry expects to work with the Government as the process evolves and to ensure it can comply.

“Cost will still be a significant factor, but the new rules must be easy to implement.

“Encouragingly, retention of the term ‘Made in Australia’ is a significant element of the proposal that is welcomed by the confectionery industry.

“While not all foods require the new graphic initially, those that will have to comply have some choice on the placement, size, layout and colour.

“The Ai Group Confectionery Sector will continue to work with the Government to ensure the industry’s views are recognised,” Piper said

 

Matilda’s Aussie grown frozen berries to begin production

Australia’s first 100 per cent locally grown frozen berries, will begin processing in the Yarra Valley next month.

The frozen berries will be processed on purpose built Australian engineered machinery in the Yarra Valley and the berries will be from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm.

Matilda’s co-founder Ruth Gallace says they’ve now secured distributors in every State and will start processing berries on its Australian designed and engineered machinery in the Yarra Valley next month.

“We have had to start this entirely from scratch.  That has meant having machinery purpose built and designed, and creating a factory from the ground up. The decision has meant things have taken much longer, much like an architectural house build, but we’ve chosen to take absolutely no short cuts, and we’re really proud of that.  Everything about this business is Australian made.”

Matilda’s was launched after 31 cases of Hepatitis A were linked by the Department of Health to Nanna's 1kg fresh frozen mixed berries, which are made using imported berries.

While Patties said after completing its microbiological and viral testing that it found no Hepatitis A or E.coli on recalled products, the recall pushed up demand for fresh Australian berries.

The origin of Matilda’s frozen berries will be completely transparent – labelled on each and every bag, with no part of the product, or process, occurring offshore.

Gallace had hoped to have product on shelves earlier, but refuses to compromise on quality.

“Now we’re at the end of the Victorian season, we’re going to use fruit from our Queensland farms when it’s at its absolute peak to ensure when it hits the shelves, we know unequivocally that we’re delivering the best product we possibly can.”

 

New Country of Origin labels cause controversy

While the overall consensus is that the new label designs are better than the old, not everyone is completely satisfied.

On Tuesday (21 July), the government revealed the long-awaited proposed Country of Origin Labelling designs.

As to be expected, The Australian Made Campaign is pleased with the new system, which incorporates the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo (for those products made and grown in Australia), with the addition of a bar chart showing what proportion of ingredients come from Australia.

“The new system will help consumers make informed choices based on the ‘Australianness’ of products,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison, said.

“A greater number of growers and manufacturers using the logo will further strengthen its impact for the benefit of both consumers and producers,” Mr Harrison said.

But Consumer advocacy group CHOICE says the new scheme will still leave many consumers wondering where their food comes from.

“Unfortunately, the new system looks less useful for consumers wanting information about any of the 195 countries that are not Australia. For example, claims such as ‘Made in Australia from more than 50% Australian ingredients’ will have you asking if your frozen berries come from China, Canada or Chile,” says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey

“The new system leaves it up to the manufacturers to voluntarily declare the origin of a product’s main ingredient.

“CHOICE is deeply concerned that global trade agreements might have provided an excuse to deny consumers the full picture of where their food comes from, especially at a time when agreements like the TPP are being finalised in secret.

There was concern that over-regulating CoOL requirements could penalise Australian food exporters from trading on the “brand Australia” – particularly popular in Asian markets.

Australia also has an agreement with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that requires that any technical measures (such as origin labelling) not to discriminate against imported products and be based upon demonstrated need for regulation. This means, that any changes to CoOL must not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil its objective; to inform.

Aussie Farmers Direct is also not entirely satisfied with the new system.

“While Aussie Farmers Direct does not believe any food or grocery line with less than 90 per cent of Aussie ingredients should be associated with the ‘Made in Australia’ label, the new labelling at least gives clarity around the percentage of local ingredients and will help customers make an informed decision, said Keith Louie, Aussie Farmers Direct CEO.                                                                                        

The proposed new ‘contents symbol’ will be mandatory for most (but not all) food products and the roll-out will commence next year – following consultation with the States and Territories – with a phased implementation period for small business.

The new labelling will apply to those food categories which consumers and the community indicated they were most interested in country of origin food labelling – this was mainly fresh produce or minimally processed foods, these include:

  • Fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts
  • Meat, poultry and seafood
  • Eggs and dairy products (eg. milk, butter, cheese)
  • Deli products and cured meats (eg. salami, ham, bacon)
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Canned/dried/packaged fruit and vegetables
  • Canned/packaged and frozen ‘ready to eat’ meals (eg. tinned soup, frozen meals)
  • Baked goods (e.g bread, muffins, cakes)
  • Meal bases, dressings and sauces (eg. salad dressings, pasta and stir-fry sauce)
  • Cereals and muesli bars
  • Cooking ingredients (flour and sugar)
  • Rice, noodles and pasta
  • Jams and spreads (eg. peanut butter and honey)

Sectors making foods not included in the list may use it the new food labels voluntarily.

For more information on the new system, click here.

 

Country of origin survey closes tomorrow

The government’s country of origin labelling online survey for consumers closes tomorrow, 3 July.

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash said regional and rural Australians had been raising country of origin issues with her for the entire decade she’d been in parliament.

“Country of origin labelling is an issue many rural and regional Australians are extremely passionate about,” Minister Nash said.

“Australians know our local produce is the cleanest and greenest on the planet. Our farmers grow their food to strict environmental conditions and pay good money for labour.

“I think most people believe Australians have a right to accurate, clear and concise labels on their food.

“The online country of origin labelling survey allows consumers to choose which format they think is best for the new labels, or to make their own suggestions.

“If consumers want a say in country of origin labelling, here is the opportunity.”

The survey puts forward six country of origin label designs, each which display the amount of local ingredients in different ways.

The government has completed a two month industry consultation process, and are now asking for consumer feedback.

The online survey can be found on the Department of Industry and Science website.