Recently, a friend was excited to show me a pair of pants they had bought with a Made in Australia tag. It was a touch sad, and by that I mean it was depressing (I’m certainly not saying we’re sad losers who get excited over clothing tags… because we’re not.. we’re not!) Regardless, a touch sad that we both found it so ‘weird’ to see an Australian Made label on a piece of clothing.
When it comes to clothes, toys, household products and the like, the Australian Made label is at best, random, but when it comes to food it is a definite marketing tool used to pull suckers like me in to products that may not necessarily be Australian ‘Made’ at all.
Here is a simple look at labelling.
Product of Australia
This means all the significant ingredients must originate here, and almost all the manufacturing or processing must be done in Australia.
Made in Australia, Australian Made and Manufactured in Australia
These labels mean the product must be substantially “transformed” (not just packaged) in Australia. Meaning, it must have undergone a fundamental change in form, appearance or nature, such that the product existing after the change is new and different from the product beforehand. Also, at least 50% of production costs must be incurred here in Australia. (Note: The costs of shipping goods to Australia may also be included as part of the Australian cost component, along with any insurance and port clearance costs.)
This means the company making the claim has proven that at least 51% of its ownership is held in Australia. It relates to ownership only and does not necessarily mean the product originated or was even manufactured in Australia.
100% Australian Owned
This means the company making the claim has proven that it holds full local ownership but again does not necessarily mean the product originated or was manufactured in Australia.
So what’s the prob?
The Made in Australia label is the one I find most confusing. According to the ACCC some companies use claims like ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients’ on their products, however, this doesn’t tell you what proportion of the ingredients are local and what proportion are imported.
So, how do you know if your dried apricots are imported apricots that have been manufactured in Australia or if it is the preservative used on Australian grown apricots that’s imported?
Another mind-bender is, if I was to buy some Australian Made orange juice I may find that the oranges were imported however, the cost of importing the oranges, processing them into juice and then packaging the juice is more than 50% of production costs and therefore the juice gets an Australian Made tick.
That’s great that there is some profit coming back to Australia but is it okay that my oranges are from another country and took a whole load of food miles to get to me?
What should I do?
Buy locally as much as possible; farmers markets, small businesses, food co-ops. This way you can ask the supplier themselves exactly where the produce comes from.
If this isn’t an option for you then be confident in your labelling knowledge next time you are shopping and make every dollar count. We are lucky to have monitored labelling laws in this country but it does pay to know exactly what they mean.