Growcom says that the current controversy over frozen berries from China demonstrates the need for clearer Country of Origin Labelling Laws.
Growcom Chairman and blueberry grower Jonathan Shaw said that numerous surveys had shown that Australian consumers were keen to buy locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables and that it was very important for them to be able to identify if the food they buy had been grown in Australia.
“Clearly, locally grown fresh produce is the best way to go, as the controversy about imported frozen berries from China has shown. Australia has some of the highest standards of food safety and quality in the world and our reputation for clean and green is one which we are very proud of as producers and exporters.
“However, Australia’s Country of Origin Labelling Laws does not make it easy for consumers to choose Australian grown produce when it comes to processed food. And I say that as a blueberry grower whose produce is not only sold fresh but is processed and frozen in Australia under strict food standards. How can Australian consumers feel confident that the frozen product they are buying is genuinely Australian grown? It is very frustrating to me and Australian growers that the absence of clear definitions makes it difficult for consumers to know where their food comes from.
“’Made in Australia’, ‘Made from Australian and imported ingredients’, ‘Product of Australia’ and ‘Australian grown’ are four different labels which cause justifiable confusion.
“Countless government inquiries have been held about this – the most recent only last year when the House of Representatives Agriculture and Industry Committee conducted an inquiry – but no real change is occurring. Meanwhile, in New Zealand there is no requirement for a food manufacturer to identify the source of contents of their product and so processed produce “Made in New Zealand” could come from other countries such as China. Growcom has long advocated for clearer Country of Origin Labelling laws in Australia, and will continue to do so.”