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Australia’s Food Labels Are Getting Clearer

Posted By: SGK December 06, 2016

Up until the new Country of Origin Labeling (CoOL) legislation was introduced in Australia, food labels were unclear. Australians wanted more information from packaged foods, specifically locally made products.

On July 1, 2016, the Australian Government responded by introducing a new way for consumers to understand where food products come from. With the change, consumers can make quicker, more informed decisions on the food they buy.

To understand the opportunities and the complexities of the new CoOL legislation, Paul Haggett, business development manager at Schawk Australia, presented a BrandSquare webinar on how the update will affect package design and what brand owners and retailers can do to comply and gain consumer trust.

Watch the entire webinar here: Make The Australian Country of Origin Labeling Legislation Work For Your Brand  

The information on the label will consist of five types of ingredient categories:

  1. Grown in Australia
  2. Made in Australia
  3. Product of Australia
  4. Packed in Australia
  5. Imported

These labels will have a kangaroo symbol, text, or bar graph. For foods that are made with 100% Australian grown ingredients, they will use the “Grown in Australia” label. For foods where major processing has been done in Australia, they will use the “Made in Australia” label. Imported foods that have been reconstituted or repackaged in Australia cannot make this claim.

Foods that are made with 100% Australian grown ingredients AND major processing has been done in Australia will wear the “Product of Australia” label. And finally, a bar graph label will indicate what percentage of the ingredients is Australian with the “Packed in Australia” label. All imported foods that are grown or packed outside of Australia are required to show the label with their country of origin. Ex: Made in France.

A few examples of what the new Country of Origin Labeling can look like:

With specific rules and regulations about how all of these symbols are used, brands must be very strategic in the way they decide which labeling devices they put forward. Brands must also consider whether the symbols can be separated and where they need to be used together.

Generally, the Australian made and produced products will place this label on the front of pack. If there is a mix of content Ex: 50% Australian ingredients, brand owners may choose to place the label on the side or back of pack. Depending on many of the other compliance requirements, it may be a struggle for brands to find the packaging real estate to apply these labels.

There is a two-year transition period for businesses selling food to comply with the new regulations. Any food product that still has the outdated label at the end of the transition period can still be sold until the end of their shelf-life date. However, food labeled after the compliance date must follow the new rules.

So, what does this mean for the U.S.?

In the U.S., CoOL can be controversial, as it may present an unfair barrier to international trade. However, companies and legislators who believe in the benefits are still pursuing options such as voluntary CoOL and mandatory CoOL for consumable products.

READ: Variable Marking and Coding: Making the Best of a Necessary Good  

Surveys have repeatedly shown that shoppers prefer to know where their food comes from, and the USDA has concluded that CoOL benefits the consumer. Shoppers usually get their way in the marketplace — an example is the recent FDA Nutrition Facts label update.  

Whether mandatory or voluntary, labels identifying country of origin are likely to play a greater role in the decisions consumers make in-aisle. Those that do comply and provide the transparency consumers are looking for, have the opportunity to drive success and create positive credibility for their brand.