Many consumers want information about where their food comes from. In Australia, country of origin information must be provided for most foods offered for retail sale.
Most of the foods you buy need to display country of origin labels. Look out for these labels on food packages or in-store signage. Different labelling requirements apply depending on:
- whether the food is grown, produced, made or packed in Australia or another country
- whether the food is a ‘priority’ or ‘non-priority’ food
- how the food is displayed for sale.
You will find country of origin labelling on most food you buy at the supermarket, local stores, markets, online or from a vending machine. Food bought from restaurants, cafes, take-away shops, schools and caterers does not have to be labelled.
Food that was packaged and labelled on or before 30 June 2018 can still be sold without the new labels.
The key country of origin claims mean different things:
- Grown in is a claim about where the ingredients come from and is commonly used for fresh food. It can also be used for multi-ingredient products to show where the food was grown and processed.
- Produced in is a claim about where the ingredients come from and where processing has occurred. This claim is often used for processed, as well as fresh foods.
- Made in is a claim about the manufacturing process involved in making the food.
When a food has not been grown, produced or made in a single country, it will need to display a label identifying the country it was packed in.
Non-priority foods must carry a country of origin text statement about where the food was grown, produced, made or packed. A product is a non-priority food if it belongs to one of the following categories:
- seasoning (e.g. salt, spices and herbs)
- confectionery (e.g. chocolate, lollies, ice cream, popcorn)
- tea and coffee (in dry, or ready to drink, form)
- biscuits and snack food (e.g. chips, crackers and ready to eat savoury snacks)
- bottled water
- soft drinks and sports drinks
Everything else is a priority food. For example, priority foods include fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, bread, milk, juice, sauces, honey, nuts and cereal.
If a priority food was grown, produced or made in Australia, its country of origin label will also feature:
- a kangaroo in a triangle logo to help you quickly identify that the food is Australian in origin
- a bar chart and text identifying the proportion of Australian content in the food (if any).
Priority foods can only claim to be produced or grown in Australia if they contain 100 per cent Australian ingredients.
|A loaf of bread that is labelled ‘Made in Australia from a least 80% Australian ingredients’ means that the bread was baked in Australia using predominately Australian ingredients|
|A carton of eggs that is labelled ‘Grown in Australia’ means that the eggs came from Australian-grown chickens|
|A packet of pasta that is labelled ‘Product of Australia’ means that the pasta was made from scratch in Australia using only Australian ingredients|
A pack of mixed nuts that is labelled ‘Packed in Australia from at least 20% Australian ingredients’ means that, at a minimum, 20% of the nuts are Australian grown.
Note: This label contains the bar chart but not the kangaroo logo as the food wasn’t grown or produced here and the level of processing wouldn’t be enough to make a ‘made in Australia’ claim.
Imported foods must also display country of origin information. Like non-priority foods, imported foods only have to carry a text statement. Businesses have the option to use a label with a shaded bar chart if the imported food contains Australian grown or produced ingredients.
A jar of jam labelled ‘Made in the USA’ means that the jam was processed in the USA
|If the jam contains Australian ingredients it could carry a label with a shaded bar chart to show that the jam was processed in USA using a certain proportion of Australian ingredients|
Sometimes businesses add words, or easily recognisable logos, symbols or pictures to their food packaging, which could suggest or imply a connection between the product and a particular country. For example, a statement such as ‘Proudly Australian owned’ next to an Australian flag tells you about the ownership of the company.
Businesses must ensure that any representations made about their products are clear, truthful and accurate.
It is illegal for a business to make a claim that goods were grown, produced, made or packed in a particular country when this was not the case.
If you see a claim that you think is misleading or does not comply with the law, you can make a consumer complaint.