Free-range egg labelling consultation begins

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th October 2015

EggsThe Australian federal government has today started consultations on free-range egg labelling.


The process has began with a paper released by the Hon. Kelly O’Dwyer MP on behalf of Australia’s consumer affairs minister.


Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has come out in support of the consultations and says that the paper already outlines several options for clearer labelling.


“As the consultation paper shows, an increasing number of Australians are paying a premium for eggs labelled free-range without having any certainty they’re getting what they pay for,” says Matt Levey, CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications.


“In the absence of a national, enforceable standard for free-range, it is relatively easy to mislead consumers, and unfortunately there is a financial incentive for some producers to do so. The result is that consumers lose, as do producers of genuine free-range eggs,” Levey said.


The consultation comes after a CHOICE investigation in June 2015 which estimated that 213 million eggs were advertised as ‘free-range’ in 2014 that did not meet consumer expectations of the free-range claim.


“Based on consumers expectations, it’s estimated Australians could be paying between $21 – 43 million per year for eggs that aren’t the real deal,” said Levey.


“It’s a rip-off that distorts the market and undermines competition, and that’s why it’s so important that governments step in and agree a genuine free-range standard that reflects what consumers expect,” Levy continued.


“Our research has shown that 84% of egg buyers agree that a mandatory national standard is needed while only 2% did not believe there should be a standard. Clearly it’s time to get cracking,” Levy said.


Consultations are open now until the 2 November 2015.