Ag White Paper commits to clearer country of origin food labelling
5 July 2015
The Australian Government underlined its commitment to improved country of origin labelling to help consumers make informed choices about the origin of the food they eat with the release of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said considerable public interest in the issue made it clear that consumers wanted to know whether the products they were buying were sourced locally or from overseas.
"We know there is confusion and frustration with the current framework, especially with claims such as 'Made in Australia' and 'Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients' that give no indication of how much of the product is actually from here or imported sources," Minister Joyce said.
"We have already released some labelling options for public consideration. I believe country of origin labelling should be simple, proportional, diagrammatic and compulsory.
"We want to make sure that consumers can easily find information about the origin of a product on the food label, and that it clearly tells them what they want to know without hiding behind vague, meaningless claims," Minister Joyce said.
"We will announce our preferred improvements to the country of origin labelling framework in the coming months."
The Australian Government is currently consulting with industry and the community about the best way forward before engaging with state and territory governments—who will largely be responsible for enforcing the labelling regime.
"When new labelling requirements have been set, we will allow a phase-in period to give businesses time to adjust," Minister Joyce said.
"Agriculture is one of the five pillars of the Australian economy and this is just one example of how this government is backing Australian farmers."
Minister Joyce released the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper with the Prime Minister on Saturday.
The White Paper was informed by comprehensive stakeholder consultation—more than 1000 submissions were received and the government talked face-to-face with more than 1100 people across the country in developing this document. The White Paper is available at agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.