Kiwis will finally be able to identify where their fruit and vege come from after the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Act passed its third reading in parliament yesterday.
Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said the law change was a much-needed first step towards better country-of-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 10 consumers backing it,” she said.
The law change will mean fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and seafood will be required to display their country of origin. Fines of up to $30,000 will apply for failure to comply with the rules.
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 said.
Ms Wilson said mandatory labelling was required because relying on retailers to voluntarily label provides products had failed to give consumers the information they needed.
Consumer NZ’s survey research showed 65 percent of shoppers looked for labelling information when buying fresh fruit but less than a third (32 percent) always found it. Even fewer (29 percent) always found labelling information when buying fresh vegetables.