The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking new steps to address misleading claims made on labels about country of origin claims but the Australian Made Campaign says the watchdog is not going far enough.
In a speech this morning to the Australian Food and Grocery Council in Canberra, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it was important for consumers to have clear and understandable guidance on the claims made on labels, packaging and in advertising about where products have been made or grown.
“Some people will pay a premium for an Australian product or a guarantee of quality,” Sims said.
“But consumers must know what they are buying.”
Sims said the ACCC does not believe there is a problem with the current classifications – the problem is people’s understanding of what they mean.
“The problem arises, it seems to me, if the only label people are looking for is ‘Made in Australia’ when what they want is a product fully from Australian sources,” Sims said.
“When they realise that a ‘Made in Australia’ product can be made from some overseas ingredients they question the validity of the origin claims. They should not.”
The ACCC says a classification system is needed that deals with where a product is made and consumers should be looking for a ‘Product of Australia’ label.
The consumer watchdog is releasing consumer friendly advice to decode the various origin claims of Made in Australia, Product of Australia and Grown in Australia,” said Sims.
Sims warned labels such as ‘Proudly Australian owned’ or ‘100% Australian owned’ are statements about the ownership of the company and not the origin of the product or its ingredients.
Lisa Crowe, administration and compliance manager for the Australian Made Campaign, told SmartCompany food is the area where consumers are most concerned about the country of origin of the products they purchase.
She says when it comes to clothes or electronics, the country of origin is less important.
The current country of origin rules for ‘Made in Australia’ claims are focused on where a product is made, but Crowe says when it comes to food, consumers want to know where the main ingredients of the product are coming from.
“This disconnect has resulted in claims that the current rules are confusing, deceptive and misleading,” says Crowe.
While the ACCC says it does not believe there is an essential problem with the current classifications, Crowe says the Australian Made Campaign believes more can be done to improve the system.
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