Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has analysed the country of origin claims for more than 320 packaged supermarket products from Aldi, Coles and Woolworths and found 60 per cent of the products didn’t reveal where the ingredients were actually sourced.
The CHOICE team recorded the country of origin statements for more than 320 packaged foods from market-leading brands as well as Aldi, Coles’ and Woolworths’ private label brands. They focused on packaged products deemed ‘most important for country of origin’:
- canned and frozen fruit and veg
- dried fruit and nuts
- fruit and vegetable juices
- frozen ready meals
- small goods (eg bacon and ham).
Almost 60 per cent of the products didn’t reveal where the ingredients were actually sourced. According to the CHOICE survey:
- ‘Made in’ claims, notorious for being misunderstood by consumers, were used on more than half of the products.
- Just 34 per cent of products displayed ‘Product of’ labels – arguably the most helpful of the current approved statements for packaged foods since it means the main ingredients come from that country and virtually all the processing was done there.
- Although 66 per cent of the products we reviewed mention Australia in their country of origin statements, once you navigate the confusing terminology it’s only possible to be certain that 26 per cent of the products – or at least their major or characterising ingredients – have been sourced in Australia.
CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey told Food Magazine Australia: “While many consumers buy on price, our member research shows 95 per cent of consumers’ surveyed try to buy Australian foods, and the top reason given was the desire to support Aussie farmers.
“Industry knows consumers have a big appetite to support Australian products and that’s why they’re so keen to get the word ‘Australian’ on their packaging.”
Coles was the big winner for country of origin labelling. The big supermarket more often had labelling that allowed CHOICE to pinpoint the source of its products, and gave a level of detail beyond the minimum requirement. For example Coles’ Thai Green Chicken Curry labelling states the product is: “Made in Australia with Australian Chicken. Rice from Thailand. Coconut milk from the Philippines or Thailand. Vegetables from Australia”.
Compare this level of detail to Woolworths’ Select green curry which says: “Made in Australia using 100% Australian chicken” and Aldi’s green chicken curry which simply says: “Made in Australia”.
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