AUSVEG has urged fast food outlets to consider adopting the new country of origin labelling system, and signalled it is time to have a larger conversation about the causes and impacts of imported produce.
The new Country of Origin Labelling laws came into effect on July 1, 2016, with the labels to become mandatory on all food products sold in retail stores from July 1, 2018.
But, some food products are exempt, including food sold for immediate consumption at fast food outlets and cafes.
Ausveg chief executive officer James Whiteside said Australian consumers preferred to purchase locally-grown food and had a right to know where their food came from.
He suggested while it would always be a positive step to ensure consumers are better informed about their food, it was important to discuss other ways of supporting local shoppers in their desire to buy Australian.
“If our growers aren’t able to be cost-competitive with imported produce in an open market, and if this is driving food producers to look overseas for their ingredients, then all stakeholders need to consider how we can work together to help our growers supply Australian consumers with the locally-grown food they’re after,” he said.
Mr Whiteside hoped industries exempt from the labelling laws would get on board, providing another opportunity for consumers to make informed choices.