Thursday, April 25, 2024

Coles on top in origin battle

Consumer advocacy group Choice has analysed the country-of-origin claims for more than 320 packaged supermarket products, from curries to crumbed fish, and found 60 per cent of the products did not reveal where the ingredients were actually sourced.

Choice’s analysis comes following the release of the federal Government’s new country-of-origin food labelling scheme, which Choice claims “failed to effectively address the lack of country-specific information on food labels”.

“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,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

Choice’s country-of-origin analysis also looked at a subset of 240 products – 60 different product types each with product representation from a market-leading brand and an equivalent ALDI, Coles and Woolworths brand.

“Once you eliminate the ones that are simply ‘packed in’, ‘processed in’ or ‘made in’ Australia – claims which provide no information on the actual origin of the ingredients – the percentage of products from each brand that we could confidently say are Australian sourced was quite small,” Mr Godfrey said. “Forty-one per cent of Coles private label products, 39 per cent of Woolworths, 31 per cent of market leaders, and 13 per cent of ALDI products in this sample.

“Coles branded products more often had labelling that allowed us to pinpoint the source of their products’ ingredients and gave a level of detail beyond the current minimum requirement. For example, Coles Thai Green Chicken Curry states: ‘Made in Australia with Australian chicken. Rice from Thailand. Coconut milk from the Philippines or Thailand. Vegetables from Australia’.

“In comparison, the equivalent Woolworths Select green curry says: ‘Made in Australia using 100% Australian chicken’ and ALDI’s green chicken curry states ‘Made in Australia’.” Choice said Coles’ labels are also in a consistent format, with country-of-origin labelling always appearing under the heading ‘Information’, so you know where to look.

“We would like to see more food manufacturers follow Coles’ lead and be more transparent about the origin of their ingredients by taking on board the option to list the main ingredients of their products,” Mr Godfrey said.

“We will be looking at the same 320 products once the new labelling has been implemented to see if the scheme helps consumers know where their food is from.”

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