Fresh produce labelling in the spotlight

A large variety of assorted fruits and vegetables,  Shallow dof.With calls for reform to Australia’s country of origin Labelling system continuing to mount, Australian shoppers say that the country of origin of their fresh produce is more important than ever, according to the latest consumer research data.

The Project Harvest study, which tracks consumer attitudes to fresh vegetable purchases, shows that the importance of vegetable provenance to consumers, increased by up to 14 per cent directly following the recall of multiple brands of frozen mixed berries after they were linked to an outbreak of Hepatitis A.

The research found the importance of the provenance of beans increased by 11 per cent, and the importance of cauliflower provenance shot up 14 per cent.

Meanwhile, data from the Potato Tracker study, which covers consumer attitudes to potato purchases, shows a 14 per cent increase in consumer ratings of the importance of their potatoes’ provenance in the months immediately following the outbreak.

Andrew White, deputy CEO of AusVeg, said after the frozen mixed berry health scare, AusVeg found that consumers want to know more about where their food is coming from.

“Country of origin has always been important to consumers, with Australian produce historically being synonymous with freshness and optimal shelf-life. This data shows that consumers are now more concerned than ever by where their food is coming from,” White said.

Possible reform of Australia’s country of origin labelling system continues to be in the spotlight following the mixed berries health scare and increased consumer concern about the potential dangers of imported produce.

AusVeg has long been an outspoken advocate for a labelling system that allows Australian consumers to identify where their food is coming from, and is calling on the Australian Government to develop reforms to country of origin labelling which result in a clear, unambiguous new system.

“Australian growers are known for their clean, green and safe produce. Looking at the data, it’s easy to see that Australian consumers appreciate all the benefits of buying local produce,” said White.

“Our stores are being flooded with cheap imported vegetable commodities, and under the current labelling system, shoppers can’t be sure where the produce on their plate was grown. This simply isn’t good enough, and Australians deserve better.”

Project Harvest and Potato Tracker are funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited using the national vegetable levy and national fresh potato levy, respectively, and funds from the Australian Government.

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