The competition watchdog has put businesses on notice: make sure you’re telling the truth when claiming products are ‘made in Australia’ or face big fines.
From July next year, labels on food products made in Australia will have to clearly show the percentage of locally grown or produced ingredients they contain.
And the rules around what constitutes a local ingredient will be tougher, preventing companies from slightly changing the form or look of imported goods then slapping on a ‘made in Australia’ label.
Under the new rules, there’s a hierarchy of labelling, ranging from ‘packed in Australia’ to ‘grown in Australia’.
‘Grown in Australia’ means that 100 percent of the ingredients were grown locally, while ‘product of Australia’ means that all of the ingredients were Australian and all major processing was done locally too.
‘Made in Australia’ means that the last major piece of processing was done locally. Products that were ‘packed in Australia’ merely need to show what percentage of Australian ingredients they contain.
With the strict new requirements just over a year away, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has urged companies to start transitioning to the more strict labelling rules.
“Consumers are often willing to pay a premium for products that originate from particular countries, but they need to be able to trust the labels,” ACCC deputy chair Michael Schaper said today.
He added that once the new labelling requirements were in place, businesses that contravened them could be hit with penalties of up to $1.1 million.
The watchdog has received more than 3,000 complaints from consumers over the past five years over country of origin labelling claims, on products ranging from food to electrical goods.