Australian state and territory consumer affairs ministers have signed off on Country of Origin labelling (CoOL) reforms for food sold at retailers, with the new scheme commencing on 1 July.
Australian businesses will have two years to adapt to the changes, which includes labels with the ‘kangaroo in a triangle’ logo indicating where products are produced, and also indicate what portion of ingredients were produced in Australia.
The changes were announced following the imported frozen berry contamination scare in March 2015 as a way to help shoppers more easily identify Australian goods.
Australian Made Campaign Limited (AMCL), the not for-profit organisation that developed and promotes the well-known ‘Australian Made, Australian Grown’ (AMAG) kangaroo logo has played a pivotal role in advising the government on new levels.
The AMAG logo is recognised by 98 per cent of Australians, said AMCL chief executive Ian Harrison, and was one of the options in a survey presented to consumers in June 2015, who were then asked to pick their preferred graphic from six options.
“The symbol incorporating the AMAG logo was selected as the overwhelming favourite. Since that point in time, AMCL has been working closely with the Department of Industry to trouble-shoot and help roll out an effective new food labelling system that will meet the needs of businesses and consumers alike,” Harrison said.
Harrison told Fruitnet that while the changes will improve transparency for consumers, there is more work to be done.
“The power of consistent branding, both here in Australia and overseas, cannot be overstated, and AMCL is pushing for the AMAG logo to be integrated into the strategy for ‘Brand Australia’ in export markets.”
The reforms are part of the Australian government’s A$4bn Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, and will see the country of origin labelling system moved from the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code to Australian Consumer Law.
The full interview with Ian Harrison is available in the Winter edition of Produce Plus, out now.