Whether or not you make a conscious effort to shop for Australian-made or owned products, when you do decide to go local, you'd expect that "Made in Australia" means exactly what it says. Unfortunately, you'd be surprised what's actually implied by these three words and how the supermarkets aren't being as upfront as they could about the origins of the products we buy.
A story in Sydney Morning Herald today explores some of the loopholes supermarket chains such as Woolworths (or Safeway, or Countdown) and Coles use to whack the "Made in Australia" tag on imported goods sold under their own, cheaper brands.
Before we get into that, we should take a look at the requirements a product must meet to be marked as "Made in Australia". From SMH:
To use "Made in Australia" without further qualification, manufacturers must meet a test that shows a substantial transformation and at least 50 per cent of the value of the good being created in Australia, including the packaging.
The rules as stated allow a product to be made from imported ingredients, packaged here, but the actual origin of the ingredients omitted on the final product. The article cites the example of food from China being transported through New Zealand first, before arriving here, which allows the supermarkets to fudge its origin.
The goods are still marked with "... from imported ingredients", but where they specifically came from? You're out of luck. SMH managed to find two juices at Coles that failed to mention the country of origin, while dried fruits and juice concentrates from Turkey and Brazil — not that you'd be able to see that on the packaging — were the main culprits at Woolies.
If you don't really care where your food is coming from, you're in the minority. According to the SMH story, a Datamonitor survey found 67 per cent of us feel it's "important" to go Aussie.
Do you try and buy local if you can? Should more pressure be put on supermarkets to provide honest labelling, or are you happy with the status quo?