Shoppers want food and manufacturing origin info

CHOICE releases survey results

A new survey of 743 CHOICE members has shown food origin continues to be a very important issue for consumers.

Results show shoppers not only want to know where food is grown, they also want information on where it is manufactured.

CFA member CHOICE has submitted the new research to the Senate Inquiry into a country-of-origin labelling bill proposed by the Australian Greens, which suggests country-of-origin claims based on ingredients alone, prohibiting the ‘Made in Australia’ claim.

What do the results tell us?

The CHOICE research shows that country of origin continues to be a very important food labelling issue for consumers, second only to the actual ingredients contained in the food. However, the survey reveals a wide gap between consumers’ understanding of the current claims and their technical definitions.

The survey showed varied interpretations of three out of the four most common country-of-origin claims, with ‘Made in Australia’ the only claim which a majority of consumers interpret consistently with the definition. However, one-third still believe the claim means the ingredients are from Australia, as well as the manufacturing.

The results reflect the message CHOICE consistently hears from consumers – that country of origin labelling is confusing. This is consistent with CHOICE’s call for the terminology to be simplified. We welcome the Greens’ initiative in this area.

However, we believe that the proposal to wipe out claims about where food is manufactured would take away information valued by many consumers. According to CHOICE’s survey findings, the importance of knowing where food is manufactured is almost on a par with knowing where it is grown in the minds of consumers:

  • 84% of respondents said it was crucial or very important to be able to confidently identify if food was grown in Australia; while
  • 80% said it was crucial or very important to be able to confidently identify if food was manufactured in Australia.

What CHOICE wants

In our submission to the Senate Inquiry, CHOICE recommends the ‘Made in Australia’ claim be retained based on consumer expectations, but suggests that the word ‘manufactured’ may more clearly indicate that the country claimed is the source of manufacturing rather than ingredients. CHOICE also suggests ways the current country of origin labelling framework could be simplified, for example by prohibiting the ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ type claim that consumers tell us they find vague and frustrating.

CHOICE will continue to advocate for the confusion around country of origin labelling to be cleared up.