CHOICE says Coles on top in country of origin labelling

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th July 2015

CHOICEAustralian consumer advocacy group CHOICE has analysed the country of origin claims for more than 320 packaged supermarket products in Australia. The range of products analysed for Country of Origin statements on their labels  from curries to crumbed fish and yet 60% of the products did not reveal where the ingredients  were actually sourced. On the other hand Coles did better in providing useful Country of Origin label information than the other supermarkets. Further details are set out below.

CHOICE’s analysis comes following the release of the Federal Government’s new country of origin food labelling scheme, which CHOICE says failed to effectively address the lack of country specific information on food labels.

“While many consumers buy on price, our member research shows 95% of consumers’ surveyed try to buy Australian foods, and the top reason given was the desire to support Aussie farmers,” says CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

“Industry knows consumers have a big appetite to support Australian products and that’s why they’re so keen to get the word ‘Australian’ on their packaging,” Godfrey says.

CHOICE’s country of origin analysis also looked at a subset of 240 products – 60 different product types each with product representation from a market leading brand and an equivalent Aldi, Coles and Woolworths brand.

Coles tops supermarkets private label for useful information

“Once you eliminate the ones that are simply ‘packed in’, ‘processed in’ or ‘made in’ Australia – claims which provide no information on the actual origin of the ingredients – the percentage of products from each brand that we could confidently say are Australian sourced was quite small: 41% of Coles private label products, 39% of Woolworths, 31% of market leaders, and 13% of Aldi products in this sample.”

“Coles branded products more often had labelling that allowed us to pinpoint the source of their products ingredients, and gave a level of detail beyond the current minimum requirement. For example:

Coles Thai Green Chicken Curry, states:

Made in Australia with Australian Chicken. Rice from Thailand. Coconut milk from the Philippines or Thailand. Vegetables from Australia.

“In comparison the equivalent Woolworths Select green curry says: ‘Made in Australia using 100% Australian chicken’ and Aldi’s green chicken curry states ‘Made in Australia’.

Coles Honey Ham sliced states:

Processed in Australia. Pork from EU and Canada. Honey from Australia.

“In comparison the equivalent Woolworths Select Honey Roast Leg Ham says ‘Made in Australia from imported and local ingredients’ and Aldi’s Berg Honey Ham sliced states ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’.

“Coles’ labels are also in a consistent format, with country of origin labelling always appearing under the heading ‘Information’ so you know where to look.

“We would like to see more food manufacturers follow Coles’ lead and be more transparent about the origin of their ingredients by taking on board the option to list the main ingredients of their products.

“When the Government’s new labelling scheme comes into force, consumers wanting to buy Australian produce will need to look for the ‘Grown in Australia’ logo or the ‘Made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients’ logo.”

“We will be looking at the same 320 products once the new labelling has been implemented to see if the scheme helps consumers know where their food is from,” CHOICE’s Godfrey says.