The Greens plan to introduce a new labelling system for food and produce to help shoppers better identify fruit and vegetables that are grown in Australia.
But one major supermarket says while it welcomes any new legislation, it already adheres to the current standards and goes above and beyond in several areas.
“We’re happy to look at new labelling, but we already do a lot in this area,” a Woolworths spokesperson told SmartCompany this morning.
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Greens leader Christine Milne said in a speech to the Rural Press Club yesterday that current “Made in Australia” labelling only covered where food is processed and packaged.
Milne says she will introduce a private members’ bill to Parliament to create “Made of Australian ingredients” and “Grown in Australia” labels, and dump the current labelling regime.
“Australians really want to buy Australian-made food,” she said yesterday. “They find great difficulty in that, because they go to the supermarket and they pick up something and they don’t know what it actually means.”
Milne says the “Made of Australian ingredients” label would require at least 90% of all ingredients to be Australian, while “Grown in Australia” means the produce would have to be grown entirely within the country.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council was contacted this morning by SmartCompany, but it declined to comment on the proposed legislation.
Coles was also contacted, but a reply was not received prior to publication.
Milne said part of the push towards these new labels was a response to frustration among both shoppers and farmers, who are facing rising costs and increased pressure from higher import levels.
“You have got the farmer in the middle trying to produce and at both ends big business, squeezing constantly,” Milne said.
“Is it any wonder that we now have an average age of farmers that is getting older and older and real concern about how are we going to get younger people onto the land?”
A spokesperson for Woolworths said the company would be “happy” to look at any new labelling legislation, but it already identified Australian made produce in its labelling.
“We have country of origin labelling and, even in some areas, we have locally produced labelling, so we can point out which food comes from Tasmania, for example.”
“We’re happy to look at whatever is proposed but we already do go above and beyond government regulations by not only including labels for Australian made, but also local area branding.”