What Does 'Made In Australia' Really Mean?

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?

Spermarket food labels mislead shoppers [SMH]


    It means it's expensive.

      The consumer deserves the right to know the origin of goods and if they then chose to buy Australian and it happens to cost more, that is their right to do so. Why hide the origin. Obviously these imported foreign goods are often cheaper which is their advantage but people will pay for quality. Anyway, such misleading practices should be stopped and properly controlled and if abused, seriously....and I mean very seriously penalise those who flaunt the Australia Made moniker. Repackaging is not in my opinion making something.

    I'm not against competition, or being able to purchase cheaper products, but I think we are entitled to be fully informed of the origin of a product so we can make an informed decision.

    I refuse to buy product that originates from China, Thailand or other countries with lax health regulations. Why is it that Australian companies are subject to stringent heath regulations yet we blindly import any old crap from overseas? Baby formula from China anyone.?


        What in your right mind think people import food like that? If it's electronic products, China or Thailand or any foreign country name that brings fear to you isn't really a bother, matter of fact, even your HDD or iPad parts are made from those countries, am I scarring you now? But majority of us don't import or buy food related products from overseas.

          Have you seen how much tinned food comes from those countries? There's quite a lot of it around, and not just plain-label stuff.

      I know you are probably aiming your comment towards foods.

      But if you don't buy any products from China and Thailand, I guess you don't have a TV, Phone, Computer, Light bulbs for your lights, pretty much most furnishings, clothes, most of the parts for your car (if you are a true Australia support that drive Holden or Ford) if not your whole car. Get over yourself.

      I am a proud Aussie, but its because all Aussie's think they deserve $25/hr for their work, that has driven most Australian to purchase from overseas.

      Who would buy something which is considerably more expensive for something exactly the same at a fraction of the price. I'm not super rich so I wouldn't I'm sorry to say.

      I believe for an australian store to sell something it needs to fit within Australian standards, wherever it's from.

      If you import something personally, however, your argument stands.

    This same issue bubbles up to public consciousness every 5 years, with consumers seemingly unanimous in wanting a realistic definition of Made in Australia, and then nothing ever happens about it.

    I remember spending some age looking for an Australian-made marmalade in Woolworths and not being able to identify a single one despite yards of shelf space.

    I'm not worried about imports, but I am always cautious when it comes to meat/veggies, I know it's local and that all it matters, anything else I buy it online :D

    With Australians modern day propensity to rip each other off, why would consider Aussie made foodstuffs to be any better or less risky than imported foodstuffs anyway? I personally think the whole "made in Australia" brand is worthless anyway but then again I'm not a local taken in by Aussie is best and stuff all the rest nonsense.

    When It comes to food. I only eat Australian. Yes. I may be caught a little by the deceptive practices as listed here, but I inspect every product I pick up and scan for country of origin. If it's not Australia. I put it down and don't buy it. There is absolutely no good reason to import food (NZ excepted). If I need to pay a premium, then I do so gladly.

    I remember Aldi has signs everywhere a few years ago 80% of items are Australian made or something - however, that campaign doesn't seem to exist anymore.

    We used to buy the Backed Beans, it was like 40 cents a can compared to $1 for Heinz, however, Aldi changed to imported versions.

      Who was backing them?

      I'm so sorry. I have a problem.

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