The new Country of Origin labelling bill could result in fines of up to $30,000 for those who fail to comply. The law change will mean fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and seafood will be required to display their country of origin. The bill was passed last night in parliament during its third reading. The law will allow Kiwis to identify where their fruit and vegetables come from.
Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said the law change was a much-needed first step towards better country f origin labelling. “Consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from so they can make informed choices about what they buy. Our research has found strong support for mandatory labelling with seven out of ten consumers backing it.”
Labelling requirements will be set in a consumer information standard. This standard will apply to fresh produce six months after it’s issued and to frozen produce 18 months after.
Ms Wilson said the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi also had the power to extend the standard to require labelling of other foods. “We’ll be pushing for that to happen. At a minimum, all single-ingredient foods should be required to display a country-of-origin label.”
She added that mandatory labelling was needed as previously retailers had failed to provide the voluntary information needed by consumers.
Consumer NZ research shows that 65 percent of shoppers looked for labelling information when buying fresh fruit but less than a third were able to find it. Even fewer (29 percent) always found labelling information when purchasing fresh vegetables.
Angus Black, general manager of Harrington’s Smallgoods, thinks the new legislation is incredibly important to consumers and the industry, which is reflected in the wide support of the issue and the inclusion of cured pork. “The majority of bacon on the shelves comes from overseas, but shoppers would never know. Now, under the new law, it must be clearly shown where the pork has been sourced from.”
New Zealand is following in the steps of Australia who introduced country of origin food labelling in 2005, and 55 other countries throughout the world already have these standards in place.