In less than a year, all Australian businesses will be required by law to adopt Australia’s new Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) changes.
The new food labelling system, a response to consumer demand, gives buyers more detailed information about the origins of foods at point of purchase.
The federal government is encouraging businesses to join early adopters of the system and get on board with CoOL.
“We have now passed the halfway point in the transition to the mandatory labelling scheme that is designed to give clearer and more meaningful information to Australian consumers about the origin of the food they buy,” Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said.
“Australians are seeing the labels on a growing number of foods products in their supermarket aisles, ranging from Woolworths packed salad mixes, to the iconic CHIKO roll, to Wicked Sister’s Rice Pudding,” he said.
Business were given a two-year period to prepare themselves between the government’s announcement of the new CoOL system and the 1 July 2018, the date on which mandatory compliance begins.
“It is fantastic to see so many are adopting the labels well ahead of the deadline,” enthused Mr Hartsuyker. “I have visited businesses right across Australia who have adopted the labels early, and I encourage remaining businesses to follow suit and make it clear where an item has been produced, grown, made or packed.
“Now, more than ever, consumers have access to clearer country of origin labelling when selecting what goes in their shopping basket.”
MSM Milling: an early adopter
MSM Milling in Manildra, Central West NSW is an early adopter of the federal government’s new Country of Origin Labelling changes, affixing kangaroo-emblazoned labels on its ‘auzure’ canola-oil products, sold domestically and in China.
The canola production and processing company, one of Australia’s largest, has put the CoOL changes in place well ahead of the federal government’s 1 July 2018 deadline, after which the new, more detailed labelling system becomes mandatory.
Mr Hartsuyker, visiting MSM Milling in early July with the Member for Calare, Andrew Gee, said it was terrific to see a well-known, Australian-owned business taking ownership of the changes.
“Food origin is an increasingly important consideration for Australian shoppers,” Mr Hartsuyker said. “Consumers want to know where their food comes from.
"Given Australian produce has a well-earned reputation of being premium-quality, clean and green, the new labelling makes it easier for those shoppers keen to support local Australian businesses.
“Now Australian and Chinese consumers can make an informed decision to select an item grown and pressed in the heart of the New South Wales farming belt,” he said.
National CoOL promotional trial: consumers approve
In a five-week national promotional campaign over autumn 2017, shoppers at more than 400 supermarkets across Australia got to check out the new labels most foods will be required to carry from 1 July 2018.
By the end of May, more than 15,000 shoppers had participated in the campaign, with many saying that they’d already noticed more products carrying these labels on supermarket shelves, and that they appreciated the greater choice and clarity the labels gave them when deciding what foods to purchase.
The campaign, which included TV, radio, print, digital and social media and shopping centre advertising, aimed to raise awareness of the new labels and the information they provide.
“I was delighted to attend today’s demonstration and see first-hand the positive reception the new labels are getting from consumers,” Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Arthur Sinodinos, told shoppers at an instore demo of the new country of origin labels at Woolworths Queanbeyan on 31 May 2017.
“Shoppers are saying that the new labels are clear and easy to read and will help them to make more informed food choices.
“Many people I spoke to had seen the ads and were keen to learn more ... the demonstrations have given people the chance to chat and ask questions,” Senator Sinodinos said.
“There has been a significant rise in traffic to an information website with consumers eager to find out more about these important reforms.”
CoOL: informing consumers about the provenance of produce
For most food made, grown or produced in Australia, labels will feature the kangaroo in a triangle symbol and a bar chart indicating the percentage of Australian ingredients, noted Mr Hartsuyker.
And under the new rules, those distributing imported foods cannot claim that these are ‘made in Australia’ simply because they’ve been canned, sliced or reconstituted in Australia.
“The new labels are easy to identify, meaningful and clear – consumers are able to easily access Australian origin information and [are] liking what they see,” said Mr Hartsuyker.
“The labels also make it easy for families to see how much of their food is grown in Australia and make it easier to support Australian farmers at the checkout.”
Mr Gee, MP, delighted that prominent food-producing businesses in his constituency have adopted the CoOL changes, urged other agribusinesses to join them.
“The CoOL system makes it easier to source Australian-made products and understand what percentage of the ingredients are from Australia,” he said.
“We want to help businesses with the process, with a range of assistance available including an online tool to help them identify appropriate labelling for their products.”
Check out the CoOL tool and other support for businesses wanting to transition to the new labelling system early at the Australian Government’s food labelling web portal or by phoning the contact centre on 13 28 46.