Country of origin labelling - FGC media response

20 March 2015

Supermarket News asked FGC for its stance on country of origin labelling in light of what it perceives as growing demand for this from consumers, particularly those in Australia after the recent recall of Nanna’s berries following a hepatitis outbreak.

Katherine Rich’s comments were:

FGC supports the current approach to country of origin labelling in New Zealand which, through a voluntary system, provides a huge amount of information to shoppers.

FGC has had no recent feedback on suggestions for change from members, and in the six years I have been chief executive no member has suggested we need more regulation in this area.

Calls to members’ customer call centres on this issue are so few and far between that the last time we asked members, the issue didn’t even register as a category. This is probably because consumers can set foot in any supermarket around the country and see a huge number of products with accurate information about country of origin. This labelling is particularly noticeable in the fresh produce section of supermarkets. Both Foodstuffs and Countdown have worked hard to implement excellent country of origin labelling in key areas.

Yes we have seen some increased discussion in Australia where some industry groups have used the Nanna’s recall to call for more regulation about country of origin. It would be irresponsible to use the recall of one product in Australia as the basis for any significant legislative reform. The response to the recall has been close to hysterical, particularly when there has not yet been any compelling evidence that the Nanna’s berries were the culprit of the hepatitis outbreak in the first place.

I understand there have been no more hepatitis cases in Australia this year than there were last year, so some of the groups in Australia using this incident to call for changes to labelling are being opportunistic.‚Äč