Sustainability research finds ‘mixed-messages’ in labelling information on Australian meat and dairy products

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th May 2012

Longitudinal research focussing on ways to make Australia’s dairy and meat industries more sustainable has highlighted a need for clearer information to be provided on some food product labels.

The ‘Buy Better’ project research has been led by Green Capital, a business sustainability arm of the Total Environment Centre – a non-governmental environmental organisation. The research was funded by the New South Wales and Victoria State Governments.

For more than a year, Green Capital has been researching ways to make Australia’s meat and dairy industries more sustainable.

Research suggests need for clearer labelling

According to the findings, current label information and claims like ‘organic’ and ‘grass-fed’ are mixed messages which can relate to animal care, chemical use, health perceptions etc.

The report says these labelling claims are “not explicitly and unambiguously environmental information”.

“Where an environmental claim is intended or implied, greater clarity is required, as is better consumer education and engagement,” the report said.

Green Capital’s report also said there currently is a surge in marketing and PR by key parts of the farming industry to present a range of environmental ‘claims’, ‘facts’ and ‘myth-busting’, especially in regard to red meat and also dairy production.

“This is a trend which requires close ‘watchdog attention’ to ensure against greenwashing,” the report warns.

Recommendations to government, business and community policies and practices are to come out of the report.