The food and grocery sector is a major part of manufacturing industry in Australia, playing a vital role in Australia’s economic and food security.
More than 300,000 Australians are employed in food and grocery manufacturing and processing, with more than half in rural and regional areas. As such it is critical to the fabric of Australian society because of the multiplier effect on jobs, skills and training opportunities, exports and innovation.
It is also a very important market for the produce our farmers grow. If Australia loses too much of its food processing and manufacturing capacity, then our farmers will suffer because the market for their produce will decline; given that it would then be more feasible to source food locally from wherever those processors and manufacturers relocate to.
All of this leads to the importance of “making every post a winner” for our food processors and manufacturers.
The Australian brand is certainly a big asset, and country of origin labelling can provide them with a very powerful advantage in the marketplace.
However, Australia’s country of origin labelling laws for food are generally regarded in the community as confusing, and this derogates from the positive impact that branding can yield.
The Australian Made Campaign therefore welcomes the Australian Greens’ recent introduction of a bill into federal Parliament to achieve greater accuracy in country of origin labelling for food, just like we did the Prime Minister’s comments earlier this year suggesting that Australia should become a food bowl for the growing Asian food market to our North.
An essential underpinning to both of these initiatives is greater emphasis on country of origin labelling.
Australian Made’s submission to Government for the National Food Plan proposed that all food products should carry a country of origin claim, and identified the ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ claim as a problem, suggesting that it should no longer be allowed unless the product being referred to actually meets the requirements for making a ‘Made in’ claim.
The rules for using the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo were changed in the middle of last year, and these changes included ‘tightening up’ the definitions underpinning an ‘Australian Made’ claim for food products carrying the AMAG logo.
Clear solution for shoppers
The consequence of these changes is that products such as ham or bacon, crumbed or battered seafood, marinated products, roasted coffee beans, blended teas, mixed fruit juices, mixed vegetables or roasted nuts no longer meet the criteria for making an ‘Australian Made’ claim in conjunction with the AMAG logo.
The impact of this is that where such products have a high level of imported ingredients, they will not be able to access the AMAG logo at all – because they can’t make the ‘Made in’ claim and will not qualify for the Product of Australia, Australian Grown or Australian Seafood claims.
The AMAG logo provides a clear solution for shoppers looking to buy genuine Aussie products and produce.
Australia is highly regarded, particularly in Asia, for the food and beverage we produce and because of our clean, green environment and our high health and safety standards. This creates a market advantage for our produce.
Therefore, it makes sense for Australian manufacturers, processors and growers to emphasise the “Australianness” of what they are producing.
This is the strength of the AMAG logo, the only registered certification trademark for genuine Australian country of origin claims.
The AMAG logo has been helping Australian businesses clearly identify to consumers, wherever they may be, that their products are Australian since its introduction by the Federal Government 26 years ago. It is Australia’s global product symbol.
*Ian Harrison is Chief Executive of the Australian Made, Australian Grown Campaign