Country of origin labelling a step close

Bay of Plenty residents – along with fellow Kiwis – are one step closer to being able to identify exactly where the fruit and vegetables they purchase are from.

The Consumers' Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill passed its first reading in Parliament this month – and Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin is delighted the bill has cleared this hurdle.

“Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from. Without this information it's very difficult for them to make informed choices,” says Sue.

“It's what the majority of us want.”

Consumer NZ's recent survey with Horticulture New Zealand revealed 71 per cent of New Zealanders wanted mandatory country of origin labelling for fruit and vegetables. Nine per cent didn't support mandatory labelling.

The survey also showed the existing voluntary approach to labelling wasn't giving consumers the facts they needed to make informed choices.

Sixty-five per cent of shoppers said they looked for labelling information when buying fresh fruit but less than one-third – or 32 per cent – always found it. Even fewer – at 29 per cent –always found labelling information when buying fresh vegetables.

The bill requires all single component foods to display their country of origin. This includes packaged and unpackaged foods.

Consumer NZ urges consumers and other interested parties to have their say on the bill at select committee stage.