CHANGE COMING: All imported foods produced, made, grown or packed outside Australia must have their country of origin on the label.
CHANGE COMING: All imported foods produced, made, grown or packed outside Australia must have their country of origin on the label. Contributed

Southern Downs farmers back food label overhaul

A LONG-AWAITED change to food labelling in Australia is just a couple of months away and Southern Downs farmers hope it will help consumers support struggling Australian producers.

From July 1, food businesses will be required to include labels that show at a glance where food is grown, produced, made or packaged.

The changes are being brought in by the Coalition government and will also include a graph showing the percentage of ingredients that come from Australia.

Ascot Cattle Stud owner Jim Wedge said labelling Australian produce would help make producers more profitable and strengthen all aspects of the industry, including the stud's core business of breeding.

"It should have been done a long time ago, people like Dick Smith have been pushing it for a long time,” he said.

"People are thinking about it more already, so the more we can get it out there and supporting Australian farmers people will take it on.”

Mr Wedge said strong promotion needed to accompany the change so people knew how to look for Australian products.

"It won't sway everybody, down to the last cent they'll be looking for the cheapest but I think the majority of people would pay a little bit extra if they knew it was Australian,” he said.

New country of origin food labels.
New country of origin food labels. Contributed

Gladfield dairy farmer Paul Bourke agreed the labelling was a positive step, as it will help people be informed.

"If they don't, the farmer is a dying race so they've got to support the Aussies,” he said.

"Even though it might be dearer, it'll keep the money and keep the jobs in Australia.”

For years producers and consumers have been calling out for changes to food labels to make them more meaningful and accurate.

Descriptions like 'made in' and 'product of' made it difficult to know the true origin of food.

Businesses have already started applying the changes, but they have a two-year grace period to implement the new labels and food with old labelling can be sold until the end of their shelf life.

Member for Maranoa David Littleproud is encouraging fast food outlets to follow suit and voluntarily display country of origin information.

"Consumers deserve the chance to buy Australian. They deserve to know where their food comes from,” he said.



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