Fruit growers pressure Coles to follow Woolies lead

Orchardists in Victoria’s troubled Goulburn Valley region are calling upon supermarket giant Coles to follow Woolworths’ lead by committing to source only Australian fruit for its private label products.

Woolworths’ $7 million deal with SPC Ardmona is expected to save up to 50,000 fruit trees in the region which is still a far cry from the 750,000 trees that were expected to be destroyed.

President of the Victorian Farmers Federation, Peter Tuohey has called upon both of the supermarket giants to replace all of its imported fruit with Australian produce, the Weekly Times Now reports.

"Just imagine how many more trees and livelihoods could be saved if all supermarkets committed to using local produce," VFF president Peter Tuohey said.

"I'm glad to see supermarkets are listening to farmers, the wider community and VFF."

John Wilson, chief executive of Fruit Growers Victoria said that Woolworths decision to source local fruit will serve as a strong marketing advantage over rival Coles, and hopes that Coles will soon commit to a similar deal.

"We expect it means about an extra 3000 tonnes of peaches and pears, so that's an incredible boost in the circumstances," said Wilson

"Obviously for growers who have lost their contracts it's not going to affect them, but we're really hoping Coles can follow suit.

"We see it as a major marketing advantage to Woolworths now that they've taken this public stance to support the growers and if Coles would follow that it would make a huge difference to the community."

Local communication manager for Coles, Julia Balderstone said that the supermarket has a strong track record of supporting SPC Ardmona’s products, including Goulburn Valley fruit.

"Approximately 80 per cent of Coles brand tinned fruit including peaches, pears, and apricots comes from the Goulburn Valley," she said.

"We will continue to work with SPC Ardmona to drive product sales and explore new opportunities for Goulburn Valley fruit."

 

Woolworths teams up with SPC for locally grown fruit deal

Supermarket giant Woolworths is in the process of formalising plans today with SPC Ardmona to convert its branded fruit products to locally grown and processed fruit.

The move serves as welcome news to struggling growers in the Goulburn Valley region – 170 of which were informed that SPC Ardmona would no longer accept their fruit earlier this year.

The growers feared that they would have to destroy some 750,000 trees to avoid attracting vermin and disease to the area without a buyer for the fruit.

Peter Kelly, SPCA’s managing director said the decision will have an invaluable impact on the region and that it was a ‘great day’ for Victorian fruit growers, The Weekly Times Now reports.

“This commitment to Australian grown and produced products is exactly what the industry and our Australian farmers need. These are trees which may have otherwise been destroyed,” said Kelly. 

“We’ve been working very productively with Woolworths in recent months to improve the competitiveness for all our Australian grown brands and this decision by Woolworths shows that they are willing to back our industry, our company and our farmers.”

According to Kelly, once Woolworths have sold through its imported stock, the supermarket will be committed to 100 percent Australian-made fruit in its products.

The announcement comes as recent research from Roy Morgan found that only 20 percent of Australian businesses have a firm policy of buying Australian-made goods.

Australian Made chief executive, Ian Harrison said that the results of the research are worrying and that the misconception that Australian products are more expensive than their imported counterparts needs to be addressed and put into a broader context.

“It is worrying to discover that the portion of companies with ‘buy local’ policies in place is so low,” said Harrison.

“Perhaps even more concerning is the percentage of businesses with no apparent inclination to reinvest back into the local business community they operate in.”

“At a time when it is clear that consumers, even government, are placing more importance on buying Australian-made, it is disappointing that businesses are not leading the way.”

 

Abbott could breach WTO rules with anti-dumping promise

A trade policy promise made by the Coalition could breach World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and affect free trade talks with Japan and China according to trade expert, and former ambassador to the WTO, Alan Oxley.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott promised to protect Australian suppliers by making it easier to enforce anti-dumping actions against unfairly cheap imports that are seen to damage Australian companies in the marketplace, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Abbott promised to ‘reverse the onus of proof’ in anti dumping cases, a move which Oxley says will break WTO trade rules, which state that authorities “shall not impose an unreasonable burden of proof."

“WTO rules clearly say governments must prove there has been dumping. They cannot ask the importer to prove there has not,” said Oxley.

Oxley says that the anti-dumping rules could be applicable in some cases, depending on the specific product affected and when free-trade deals are negotiated with China and Japan. However, Oxley believes that the offer of subsides would be a more effective solution as they are more transparent.

Anti-dumping investigations have skyrocketed in recent years, and almost tripled in 2011-12 within the food, chemical and steel manufacturing sectors.

The Labor government created an Anti-Dumping Commission which seeks to impose duties to address material injury to the Australian industry that manufacturers similar or the same goods.

Importers claim that the new system, which commenced in March, has already made biased anti-dumping judgements.

“What we are proposing as a Coalition is a toughening up of anti-dumping practices,” said Abbott.

“Once a prima facie case has been established, that they are selling at an uneconomically low price, well then rather having to prove your case in order to stop it, it’ll then be up to the person selling-in to prove that there has been no dumping.”

Early this year, the Productivity Commission announced that they will be undertaking two six-month inquiries into whether the food processing industry will need WTO safeguards with an emphasis on the impact of imported processed fruit and tomatoes on Aussie producers.

Major tinned fruit exporters including South Africa, Chile and the European Union rejected Australia’s application for emergency tariff protection stating that the strict criteria stipulated by the WTO has not been met, and that the application for emergency tariffs was completely unjustified.

 

Australian products have become more important to Aussie consumers: study

New research has found that purchasing Australian Made products has become more important to Australian consumers.

The research which was conducted by market research company, Roy Morgan and commissioned by the Australian Made Campaign revealed that purchasing Australian made products has become more important to Aussie’s in the last 12 months – even if it comes at a higher price tag.

The study found that more than half of the respondents surveyed (55%) said that buying Australian-made had become more important to them in the last 12 months, while just one tenth of the respondents (12%), said that they would not buy Australian products if they were more expensive.

Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison said that the findings were encouraging.

“The research confirms that people are becoming more conscientious about buying local. They are aware of the benefits of buying Aussie products, and of the impact that their purchasing behaviour has on jobs, local business and future opportunities,” said Harrision.

“Concern is mounting over job prospects in this country, but research like this indicates a proactive effort by consumers to turn things around.”

The Australian Made Campaign was launched in an effort to help consumers source genuine Australian made products and produce. The campaign’s website features over 10,000 Australian Made certified products from Australian manufactures, processors and producers.  

 

Australian Made calls for stronger government support

The Australian Made campaign is calling on the government to throw its weight behind the manufacturing industry by supporting stronger country of origin labelling requirements.

"The Australian brand is one of the most powerful assets available to our businesses in global markets, but unfortunately the value of this seems to have been consistently underestimated in government and bureaucratic circles for many years," Australian Made Campaign chief ececutive, Ian Harrison, said.

The iconic green and gold kangaroo logo has been used by thousands of businesses for nearly three decades  to identify genuine Australian products and produce in Australia and overseas.

"In an environment where increased costs and a high $AUD have seriously undermined the competitiveness of many Australian products, country of origin is an asset we should be driving much, much harder," Harrison said.

Harrison is calling for a strategic partnership between the government and the Australian Made campaign, including a plan to reduce consumer confusion surrounding country of origin labelling.

"It’s important that we rebuild confidence in the system and add marketing value to the manufacturing, growing and processing of products in this country.

"We are lobbying the government to work together with us on this," he said.

Earlier this year, the Greens proposed a new country of origin labelling system which focuses purely on food ingredients, but this was slammed by both Australian Made and the Australian Food and Grocery Council, which argued that the proposal fails to provide clear information on where the value-adding process takes place on processed foods.

Consumer group, Choice also suggested a shake-up to country of origin labelling, proposing a simplified system comprising three key claims: Product of Australia, Manufactured in Australia; and Packaged in Australia.
 

Food SA urges consumers to buy local

Peak industry body, Food SA has warned that local food manufacturers will continue to suffer unless consumers make a concerted effort to buy local.

Chief executive, Catherine Barnett said that it is imperative that SA consumers make an effort to support local producers as the food industry is both the state’s largest employer and largest industry, The Advertiser reports.

“South Australia’s food industry has been challenged in tough times yet continues to perform well contributing $14.3b in revenue to the economy in 2011-12 and employing 150,000 people – that’s nearly one in five of the state’s workforce,” she said.

“Food remains the largest manufacturing segment in South Australia and more than ever is vital to the state as both the backbone and heart of the economy.”

In a push to support SA brands, Barnett has suggested that consumers should encourage supermarkets to stock more Aussie brands.

"Consumers are lucky to have some of the very best quality, safe, innovative and diverse products and produce on their doorstep in South Australia," said Barnett. 

"There are benefits to consumers in buying a South Australian product as the knock on effects reach far beyond the company to potentially hundreds of suppliers including growers, packaging, freight, hospitality, retail and business services.”

 

Tinned fruit exporters reject Australian tariffs

Major tinned fruit and tomato exporting nations including South Africa, Chile and the European Union have dismissed the prospect of emergency tariff protection for Australia’s tinned fruit and tomato industry.

The Australian food processing industry gave evidence at a Productivity Commission inquiry in Canberra sighting that a significant decline in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region was a linked to a sudden increase in imported product, and therefore, the industry should be able to achieve emergency WTO safeguards.

However the exporting nations argue that the strict criteria stipulated by the WTO has not been met, and that the application for emergency tariffs was completely unjustified ABC Rural reports.

Andrea Nicolaj, leader of the European Union delegation said that although imports of Italian tomatoes are quite high, there was not a sudden increase in the supply of the product.

"There was an increase between 2011-2012 of 12 per cent, but in recent months there's been a decrease of 2 per cent, and over the last years, I would say the level of imports has been relatively steady," he said.

"What is confusing, is that the data and statistics supplied by SPC Ardmona refer to sales data; not import data, but sales data.

"We don't think that's adequate to base safeguard measures on statistics which are not official statistics."

South Africa has also dismissed the Australian industry’s application, suggesting that SPC Ardmona’s decline in sales was not due to imports, and Chile has stated that introduction of tariffs could potentially damage trade relationships between the two countries.

"It seems that they are suffering injury not via the imports, at least from a South African perspective, and it may be that it's not imports causing any injury," said Rian Geldenhuys of South Africa's canning industry association.

"Perhaps [it's actually] not very good strategic decisions being taken by SPC Ardmona at certain stages within their corporate history."

Additional submissions with the possibility to hold further hearings will be left open until September when the commission’s interim report is due.

Berri’s Mexican juice still under pressure

Berri Truly, an orange juice imported from Mexico under the Berri brand has come under further pressure from independent senator Nick Xenophon, and state member for Chaffey, Tim Whetstone, after they called for removal of the product from supermarket shelves.

The juice is currently being sold in supermarkets for around $1, however Whetstone has called upon parent company Lion to remove the product from supermarket shelves immediately, The Advertiser reports.

The product, Berri Truly Juice came under fire for allegedly misleading customers regarding the country of origin. Senator Xenophon said the juice featured a ‘product of Mexico’ claim on the back of the label in small print while the Berri logo proudly claimed “since 1943.”

Lion announced that the company decided to delete the product as it was not meeting set performance benchmarks.

Whetstone says that local fruit growers are suffering at the expense of imported products.

“Riverland growers are receiving less than two cents per kilogram for juicing fruit and it is simply not good enough that an imported juice brand is taking up shelf space that could otherwise be for SA made brands,” he said.

“Our orange growers are ripping up orchards because they cannot find markets for their produce but we are seeing a label branded synonymously with SA and the Riverland sourcing imported fruit.”

 

Berri withdraws Mexican fruit juice

The Berri Fruit Juice Company has chosen to withdraw its imported Berri Truly Juice product from shelves.

The company said the move to withdraw the product was due to the item not meeting set performance benchmarks, however the decision came soon after independent Senator Nick Xenophon, launched an attack on the company for allegedly misleading customers regarding the country of origin of the product.

Xenophon said the juice featured a ‘product of Mexico’ claim on the back of the label in small print while the Berri logo proudly claimed “since 1943”, as reported by the Weekly Times Now.

"People assume Berri uses fruit that's grown in Berri or in South Australia at the very least, not in Mexico," said Xenophon.

Xenophon was joined by South Australian Liberal MP Tim Whetstone, who also believed that the company was misrepresenting Australian growers and misleading consumers by leading them to believe that the product was Australian.

The two MPs are also planning to file complaints with the ACCC and SA Consumer Affairs over the matter.

Berri released a statement saying that the juice complied with country of origin labelling laws and Australian food standards.

"We do not apologise for investing in innovation to grow the juice category in Australia," the company said.

"In the case of Berri Truly, the product required technology not available in Australia."

 

Australia’s most expensive bottle of Olive Oil fetches $10,000

Australia’s most expensive bottle of extra virgin olive oil was auctioned on Wednesday night at FEVOO, Australia’s first extra virgin olive oil festival.

Reaching an impressive $10,000, the 1.5L magnum bottle was sold to Andrew Pridman, incoming chairman of the Sydney Swans and chairman of Cobram Estate Olive Oil, with all proceeds donated to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.

The olive oil was a ‘Trio’ blend using oil from Australia best groves and was crafted by master olive oil maker, Leandro Ravetti.

Each of the oils used won awards at the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition in April this year. The Trio consisted of Cobram Estate’s limited release Ultra-Premium Hojiblanca and Picual, made by Ravetti, with the final component coming from Rylstone Olive Press with their Rylstone Cudgegong Blend 3.

The FEVOO festival celebrated the Australian olive oil industry by showcasing Australia’s finest extra virgin olive oils featuring the like of Cobram Estate, Cradle Coast Olives, Alto Olives, Gwydir Olives, Camilo Olives, Pukara Estate and many more.

The festival also featured an expert panel who discussed the importance of the Australian extra virgin olive oil industry and included Dr Leandro Ravetti, Dr Richard Gawel, Dr Johanna McMillan, Stephanie Alexander and Professor Rod Mailer. 

 

Coles slams ACCC for an “appalling regulatory process”

Coles has hit back at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over the handling of recent fines that were issued to the supermarket giant.

Coles says that the food-labelling complaint which related to misleading claims surrounding the country of origin of particular in store fruit displays, was handled in an inappropriate manner, stating that the watchdog demonstrated an “appalling regulatory process”, as reported by The Australian Financial Review.

Coles opted to pay the fine to avoid waiting for a court hearing, however Coles spokesman Robert Hadler said that the industry regulator’s handling of the case was appalling.

 “We question the principle, the materiality and the process around the decision,” he said.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims accepted that the industry body’s approach to the incident was less than perfect, however he believes that the supermarket still would have been fined regardless as the advertising was clearly misleading to consumers.

Last month the competition regulator launched legal proceedings against Coles for misleading and deceptive conduct relating to the supply of bread that was partially baked and frozen off-site, then 'finished' in-store and marketed as 'Baked Today, Sold Today' or 'Freshly Baked In-Store'.

 

Coles fined $61,000 for country of origin claims

Coles has paid six infringement notices totalling $61,200 for allegedly misleading representations about the country of origin of fresh produce in five stores.

The stores are located across Queensland, NSW, Western Australia and the ACT and the infringement notices refer to claims made between March 2013 and May 2013.

The fines follow an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after a complaint was made that Coles had displayed imported navel oranges and kiwi fruit under a board which read 'Helping Australia Grow' and accompanied by the Australian Grown symbol.

The ACCC also discovered the same signage at a number of Coles stores promoting the sale of imported asparagus and almonds.

While the overseas country of origin was correctly identified either by stickers on the produce, on its packaging or under the display bin, the ACCC says the signage gave consumers the impression the produce was Australian grown.

"Consumers should be able to rely on the accuracy of claims about food, particularly when they are prepared to pay a premium for products made in Australia. Misleading country of origin claims can also have a significant impact on the competitive process and hurt the local economy," ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said.

"While this does not appear to be a case of widespread or systemic conduct, ‘Helping Australia Grow’ is a significant national campaign driven hard by Coles to advertise its fresh produce. This is a lesson to all retailers that they need to take care when undertaking significant advertising campaigns to ensure consumers are not misled by those campaigns."

According to Coles, the misrepresentation of imported produce as Australian grown was unintentional – the result of stock being relocated within stores but not the corresponding promotional imagery.

This isn't the only instance which has seen the supermarket giant fall under the gaze of the ACCC.

Just last month the competition regulator launched legal proceedings against Coles for engaging in false, misleading and deceptive conduct in the supply of bread that was particually baked and frozen off-site, then transported to Coles stores, 'finished' in-store and marketed as 'Baked Today, Sold Today' or 'Freshly Baked In-Store'.

The ACCC is also investigating the conduct of both Coles and Woolworths in regards to their dealings with suppliers, amid accusations both supermarket chains use bullying tactics to force prices down.

 

New SPC labelling could lead the push for stronger labelling laws

SPC Ardmona has decided to move the fine print from the back of its labels to the front, enabling consumers to easily identify where the ingredients originate from.

The company will now name the specific regions of where its fruit and vegetables are sourced from on the front of its labels, challenging current industry conventions.

“We want to ensure that consumers understand that SPC Ardmona uses Australian grown and made fruit and vegetables, '' managing director Peter Kelly told the Weekly Times Now.

`As part of our campaign to encourage all consumers to choose SPC Ardmona Australian brands over cheap imported private label products we have just launched brand new labels with stronger Australian grown and Australian made messages on our SPC peaches, pears and baked beans and spaghetti cans as well as our 100 per cent Australian Ardmona tomatoes.''

An example of the new label that will be displayed on SPC’s baked beans:

“SPC is proud to source all of its navy beans for SPC baked beans from Australia, from great places like the Queensland town of Kingaroy''

“If you're not eating SPC Baked Beans, you're eating beans sourced from overseas. And that means you're not supporting Australian farmers.''

The Green’s Country of Origin Labelling Bill which aims to simplify country of origin claims is still before parliament.

The new legislation would simplify labelling to one of three claims:

  • Product of or grown in Australia
  • Manufactured in Australia
  • Packaged in Australia 

Australian Made confronts senate on country of origin labelling

Australian Made has appeared before the senate standing committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport regarding the labelling of beef imports into Australia.

The adequacy of current labelling laws were bought into question as well as the associated health and safety implications of importing beef from disease-affected countries.

Australian Made believes that the senate committee must stand firm regarding import regulations in order to maintain Australia’s reputation for stringent safety standards and environmentally friendly processes.

“In the case of beef, there is strong and justifiable concern about possible contamination of imported meat by diseases such as Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), and the consequent dangers to human health,” Australian Made Campaign Chief Executive, Ian Harrison said. 

The revised food standard which will come into effect in July 2013, covers compulsory country of origin labelling for unpackaged foods including beef, veal, lamb, hogget, mutton and chicken. These new standards do not extend to cover less common varieties including horse, rabbit, duck, turkey and quail.

Australian made is calling for compulsory country of origin labelling on all types of meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables and believes that it is within the interests of both business and consumers alike to develop uniform, easy to interpret labelling laws.

According to Harrison, research has shown that consumers have a strong preference toward Australian fresh and processed food due to the country’s stringent food safety standards.

“At present, the rules for using the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo on food products are more stringent than the rules applied by the ACCC for products to be described as ‘Australian Made’ or ‘Made in Australia’,” said Harrison.

“Being able to describe their products as Australian is an advantage in the market place for Australia’s manufacturers and producers. The Government should be seeking to strengthen this advantage by building greater consumer confidence into the labelling laws for ‘Made in Australia’ claims.”

 “It is Australian Made’s position that all food products should be required to carry a country of origin claim.”

 

AUSVEG supports Greens’ country of origin reforms

The Greens' proposed overhaul of country of origin labelling laws has received the backing of growers organisation, AUSVEG.

Earlier this week the Greens introduced a bill into the Senate seeking to overhaul Australia's country of origin labelling system, which Greens senator Christine Milne described as "too confusing."

The Bill seeks to simplify labelling into three claims: Product of or Grown in Australia; Manufactured in Australia; and Packaged in Australia.

AUSVEG, which represents Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers, has thrown its weight behind the Greens, with spokesperson Hugh Gurney saying any move which aims to make it easier for consumers to support homegrown produce is welcome.

"Senator Milne highlighted that consumers want to support Australian farmers. Recent research conducted has shown that 80 percent of consumers want to purchase Australian produce to support farmers and for our nation to have a viable food industry.

"Current labelling claims, including the downright baffling 'Made in New Zealand from Local and Imported ingredients', provide consumers with no certainty whatsoever that the food they choose has been produced to the incredibly high standards of quality and safety as those seen in Australia," said Gurney.

At the moment, a product from China can travel to New Zealand, be processed and sent onto Australia under the claim 'Made in New Zealand from Local and Imported Ingredients'.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) opposes the Bill, however, claiming it has the potential to mislead consumers and drive jobs offshore because it focuses purely on food ingredients and doesn't provide clear information on where the value-adding process takes place on processed foods.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson said "The Greens' Country of Origin Labelling proposal fails its own test in protecting Australian jobs by effectively ignoring the economic value-add of the nearly 300,000 Australians employed directly in the food and grocery processing sector, including 8,000 in Tasmania."

And worse, it expressly bars companies from using 'Made in Australia' on their labelling to indicate that the jobs in the manufacture of the product are here in Australia. This will not only mislead Australian consumers, but also remove any export advantage Australian food manufacturing companies have in promoting Australian premium brands particularly in Asian markets," he said.

Australian Made also rejects the Greens' Bill, with chief executive Ian Harrison arguing the current labelling regime needs to be changed, but these proposed reforms fall short of what Australia needs.

"The proposed Bill is a step in the right direction, but misses the mark on some very important issues, including substantial transformation, which is all about where products are made," he said.

 

Fruit growers urge consumers to buy local

Australia’s peak body for the apple and pear sector, Apple and Pear Australia, is encouraging consumers to support Australian growers by choosing local products over imported at the checkout.

Managing director of the industry body, John Durham is urging consumers to help secure a future for the Aussie industry by showing loyalty towards local producers.

“We produce food in this country to the highest standard in the world,” he told ABC Rural.

“Australian consumers need to recognise that and be prepared to pay a little bit more for it, because the alternative is to buy imported product.”

Durham said that Australia has very high food safety standards and these standards are not necessarily uniform in other countries.

“We don’t know what food safety standards apply to the production of that food, but we’re happy to buy it because it’s discounted by 10, 20 or 30 percent.

His comments have come as struggling producers in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria prepare to rally today for support in the wake of SPC Ardmona’s decision last month to stop taking produce from local producers in favour of imported produce.

 

Consumers from around the world prefer to buy Aussie: Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan Research has revealed – somewhat unsurprisingly – that the vast majority of Australians prefer to buy locally-produced goods. But we're not the only ones who see the value in our homegrown brands.

The research found that 88.5 percent of Australians aged 14 years or over are more likely to buy Australian-made products, with other manufacturing markets including Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the US and the UK.

Products made in the US came in at second place, with 56.2 percent, The UK also rated highly with 53.8 percent, closely followed by New Zealand, at 52.8 percent.

Countries not faring so well include Chile (9.6 percent), Indonesia (10.8 percent) and India (13 percent).

What is perhaps most interesting is the discovery that 90.7 percent of people born in the US preferring Australian-made products. Of those born here, 90.3 percent want to buy locally – a figure matched by those born in Canada.

When it comes to those born in Asia, 78.9 percent prefer Aussie goods, while 54.3 percent are likelier to buy Japanese products, 39 percent from Chile and 33.6 percent from Korea.

Norman Morris, industry communications director at Roy Morgan research, said the findings inducate that across the globe, Australia has a well-respected reputation in manufacturing.

"While there are slight variations if we take a person's country of birth into consideration, Australian-made is still consistently more popular than products manufactured elsewhere. People born in the US are especially fond of locally-produced goods, sometimes even more so than those born here.

"Not only are these results encouraging for local manufacturers, they reinforce the value of the ‘Australian-made’ angle when marketing home-grown products," he said.

So what are they buying?
When people surveyed were asked ‘For each of the following products — clothes, food, electrical goods, motor vehicles, sporting goods, wine — would you be more likely to buy it if it was labelled Made in Australia?’ 87.4 percent of the population is more likely to buy food produced here.

75.2 percent prefer to buy Australian-made clothes, but locally-manufactured cars don't hold the same appeal. Just 55.5 percent of respondents said they'd be more likely to buy a car if it was Aussie-made, with the percentage falling to 36.6 percent of people born in Asia.

Made in China
Australians are steering away from products manufactured in China, with 32.3 percent o Australians saying they prefer to buy Chinese-made clothes and only 2.9 percent claiming they prefer to buy Chinese wine, but this is unsurprising considering the popularity of Australian wines in Asia.

 

Australian Made rejects proposed changes to food labelling

While accepting the shortcomings of Australia's current labelling regime, Australian Made has rejected proposed changes put forward by the Greens.

The Australian Made Campaign stated its case yesterday before the Sentate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee hearing into the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Food Labelling Bill) 2012, which is looking to address country of origin labelling laws.

Ian Harrison, chief executive of the Australian Made Campaign, said changes need to be made to the current labelling regime and welcomed conversation on alternatives, but said the proposed Bill falls short of what Australia needs.

"The proposed Bill is a step in the right direction, but misses the mark on some very important issues, including substantial transformation, which is all about where products are made," he said.

"For consumers to be able to make educated decisions about the food they purchase, that information must be made available."

Australian Made called for the definition of substantial transformation to be restricted so it's becomes more difficult for products with high imported content and minimal processing in Australia to pass themselves off as Australian.

"At present, the rules for using the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo on food products are more stringent than the rules applied by the ACCC," Harrison said.

"We are calling on the government to follow the Australian Made Campaign's lead, to make it easier for consumers to identify genuine Aussie products and to build greater consumer confidence back into Australia’s food labelling system."

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) also rejected the Green's Bill, arguing it has the potential to mislead consumers and drive jobs offshore.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson, said "The Greens' Country of Origin Labelling proposal fails its own test in protecting Australian jobs by effectively ignoring the economic value-add of the nearly 300,000 Australians employed directly in the food and grocery processing sector, including 8,000 in Tasmania."

 

Greens’ country of origin Bill fails to protect Aussie jobs: AFGC

A Greens Bill which aims to change regulations surrounding Country of Origin labelling has the potential to mislead consumers and drive jobs offshore, says the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The Bill [The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Food-Labelling) Bill (No.2)] focuses purely on food ingredients and is being examined by a Senate Committee in Hobart this week. According to AFGC CEO Gary Dawson, it fails to provide clear information on where the value-adding process takes place on processed foods.

"The Greens' Country of Origin Labelling proposal fails its own test in protecting Australian jobs by effectively ignoring the economic value-add of the nearly 300,000 Australians employed directly in the food and grocery processing sector, including 8,000 in Tasmania," said Dawson.

"And worse, it expressly bars companies from using 'Made in Australia' on their labelling to indicate that the jobs in the manufacture of the product are here in Australia. This will not only mislead Australian consumers, but also remove any export advantage Australian food manufacturing companies have in promoting Australian premium brands particularly in Asian markets."

Dawson says that under the Bill, chocolate processed in Australia wouldn't carry 'Made in Australia' on its label because the cocoa is imported. Australian wheat shipped to China where it would be processsed and transformed into noodles, for example, before being packaging and imported into Australia could carry 'Made of Australian ingredients' on its label – "duping consumers into thinking it had been manufactured here," said Dawson.

He said the Bill threatens to penalise Australian manufacturers through increased regulatory compliance and costs.

"It would be a great irony if the implementation of Country of Origin Labelling regulations – that imposed additional costs but failed to provide consumer information on where products were manufactured – contributed to driving Australian jobs offshore," he said.

Earlier this year Choice proposed a new Country of Origin labelling system, breaking it down into three categories:

  • ‘Product of Australia’ – a claim about where the ingredients are from and where they are processed
  • ‘Manufactured in Australia’ – a claim about where the food was manufactured
  • ‘Packaged in Australia’ – a basic claim to accommodate products which by law have to carry an origin declaration. Products with this label would contain ingredients from different countries.

 

Choice proposes country of origin labelling reforms

Consumer group Choice has proposed a new country of origin labelling system, after a survey found 90 percent of respondents are unsire of where their food comes from.

Choice wants labelling to be simplified into three claims:

  • ‘Product of Australia’ – a claim about where the ingredients are from and where they are processed
  • ‘Manufactured in Australia’ – a claim about where the food was manufactured
  • ‘Packaged in Australia’ – a basic claim to accommodate products which by law have to carry an origin declaration. Products with this label would contain ingredients from different countries.

Food policy advisor at Choice, Angela McDougall, said "When choosing food, consumers tell us that knowing [where] it comes from is an important issue – second only to information on the ingredients it contains.

"We also know that Australian consumers are finding country of origin labelling confusing with a proliferation of vague and muddy claims like ‘Made in Australia from imported and local ingredients’, which mean little," she said.

The survey uncovered the importance of clear country of origin labelling to consumers varies depending on what their purchasing. Primary produce like meat and vegetables are at the top of the list with consumers most eager to understand where it's from, followed by foods like dairy and bread. Country of origin labelling was least important for highly processing foods like soft drinks and confectionery.

There's been a growing acceptance of the fact that consumers want country of origin clarification, with South Australian restaurants and takeaway shops having to disclose whether their seafood is local or imported, following the introduction of new legislation in February this year.

Choice conducted another survey last year, releasing the results in September and concluding that one in every four grocery items now sold in Australian supermarkets is private label and of those, about one in two is imported. It also found that an overwhelming number of respondents would pay more for home-brand products that they knew were produced in Australia from local ingredients.