The rules for Country of Origin labelling are changing, and businesses face a challenge in ensuring their labels are both accurate and honest when it comes to their country of origin. Business will now need to show what percentage of a product is from Australia and whether a product has been grown, packed or produced in Australia. We have identified the six biggest issues that business owners need to be aware of when labelling their products.
Businesses will need to provide evidence and data that shows where they source ingredients and where the product is packed. If you cannot prove that an ingredient is from Australia then you will need to declare it as being an international ingredient.
Because of the strict nature of the labelling laws, businesses will need to make sure that they source their ingredients from somewhere reliable. If a supplier fails to deliver and you need to head overseas to find an ingredient, there are no exceptions and you will have to change your label or find a local supplier.
If you are unsure about a supplier and think your product might have different levels of Australian content dependent on the season, then it’s best to under declare the Australian content. The law only calls for a minimum Australian content level and businesses are able to average out the content level if it does change from pack to pack, but make sure you never over declare the Australian content level.
‘Product of’ and ‘Made in’
One of the biggest changes will be the difference between “Made in Australia” and “Product of Australia”. Products that are a “Product of’ Australia are items that have been grown, manufactured and processed in Australia with Australian ingredients. This differs from “Made in” Australia products, which means that the product was processed and made in the country but some or all of the ingredients are from overseas. According to the new regulations businesses must also include the percentage of a products ingredient, which are from overseas.
One of the trickiest aspects of the new regulations is what to do with water. Products that dehydrated overseas then rehydrated in Australia can’t count that water content as Australian. Any water that is taken out of a product overseas and put back in on Australian shores has to be considered as coming from the original country. The new regulations do not apply to any water that is used in the packaging of a product or used to boil a product before selling (unless the water is absorbed into the product itself).
These new laws will come into effect on the 30th of June 2018. This does not mean that any products sold after this date need the new labels, but rather any product packed after this date needs the new label. Although this does give companies some extra time to change their labels, we would advise that businesses have all their new packaging ready to go well before this date.