New director for Australian Made

Nicki Anderson is the newest addition to the Australian Made campaign's board of directors.

Australian Made said it selected Anderson, who is also managing director of Demo Plus, the largest sampling, demonstration and events organisation in Australia, because of her knowledge and understanding of the Australian manufacturing sector and experience in marketing FMCGs.

Anderson has previously worked as managing director for Kraft Foods; marketing and innovation director for SPC Ardmona and McCain Foods; and general manager beverage marketing for Cadbury Schweppes Australia.

"I am thrilled to be joining the Australian Made campaign’s board of directors," Anderson said.

"Throughout my career I have worked for companies that have strongly supported Australian manufacturing. Buying Australian means that we are helping the Australian economy, supporting local jobs, investing in our community, and, importantly, helping to ensure the sustainable future of Australian industry for our kids."

Other Australian Made campaign directors include:

  • David Gray AM (chairman), managing director, David Gray & Co. Pty Ltd
  • Glenn Cooper AM (deputy chairman), executive chairman, Coopers Brewery Limited
  • Neil Summerson FCA (treasurer), director and former chairman, Bank of Queensland
  • Peter Anderson, CEO, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)
  • Allyn Beard, marketing director, A.H. Beard Pty Ltd
  • Andrew Broad, former president of the Victorian Farmers Federation
  • Robert Gerard AO, executive chairman, Gerard Corporation Pty Ltd
  • Robert Hutchinson (state manager, Queensland, ParexDavco (Australia) Pty Ltd)

 

New website promotes Australian manufacturers

The Australian Made campaign has launched a new website aimed at helping consumers find genuine Australian products.

The website, www.australianmade.com.au comprises more than 10,000 products from Australian manufacturers, processors and producers, and allows consumers to easily search for locally made, grown or caught products.

Only products certified to carry the Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) logo can be featured on the website.

"Australian shoppers are looking for local products and they are looking for them online – this website provides a gateway for Australian businesses of all sizes to connect with those shoppers," Australian Made chief executive, Ian Harrison, said.

"Consumers can be sure that the products they source via the Australian Made website are grown and manufactured right here in Australia, in Australia’s clean, green environment and to Australia’s high health and safety standards."

The website's launch is part of a broader media campaign encouraging consumers to support local manufacturers. It features real manufacturers encouraging Australians to buy local and will run across TV, print, radio and online throughout the remainder of 2013.

According to recently released research by Roy Morgan Research, 87.4 percent of Australians want to buy food produced in Australia and 88.5 percent are more likely to buy Australian made products over products manufactured in other countries.

"We need to continue to support local products and produce – and the manufacturers and growers behind them – because reinvestment in our communities is the key to securing local economic development; jobs, training and career opportunities for our kids; and a better future for all Australians," Harrison said.

 

Australian Made rejects proposed changes to food labelling

While accepting the shortcomings of Australia's current labelling regime, Australian Made has rejected proposed changes put forward by the Greens.

The Australian Made Campaign stated its case yesterday before the Sentate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee hearing into the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Australian Food Labelling Bill) 2012, which is looking to address country of origin labelling laws.

Ian Harrison, chief executive of the Australian Made Campaign, said changes need to be made to the current labelling regime and welcomed conversation on alternatives, but said the proposed Bill falls short of what Australia needs.

"The proposed Bill is a step in the right direction, but misses the mark on some very important issues, including substantial transformation, which is all about where products are made," he said.

"For consumers to be able to make educated decisions about the food they purchase, that information must be made available."

Australian Made called for the definition of substantial transformation to be restricted so it's becomes more difficult for products with high imported content and minimal processing in Australia to pass themselves off as Australian.

"At present, the rules for using the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo on food products are more stringent than the rules applied by the ACCC," Harrison said.

"We are calling on the government to follow the Australian Made Campaign's lead, to make it easier for consumers to identify genuine Aussie products and to build greater consumer confidence back into Australia’s food labelling system."

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) also rejected the Green's Bill, arguing it has the potential to mislead consumers and drive jobs offshore.

AFGC CEO Gary Dawson, said "The Greens' Country of Origin Labelling proposal fails its own test in protecting Australian jobs by effectively ignoring the economic value-add of the nearly 300,000 Australians employed directly in the food and grocery processing sector, including 8,000 in Tasmania."

 

Mixed reaction on new health labelling laws

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation has approved proposals to regulate food manufacturers' products nutrition content and health claims.

These new regulations will create stricter controls over on-pack health claims, including the need to provide scientific evidence to support claims and meet specific eligibility criteria including nutrition criteria.

The move came on the same day the Gillard Government announced a range of measurers to bolster the strength of Australia's manufacturing sector – promising the first round of the $236 million Industrial Transformation Research Program will focus on food research.

Meeting in Brisbane on Friday the various ministers considered the review report for the draft Standard for Nutrition, Health and Related Claims provided by the Board of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and agreed to enact new laws early next year that will regulate the voluntary use of nutrition content and health claims, general level health claims, and high level health claims.

These changes will force manufacturers to have health claims such as 'calcium is good for strong bones' to be supported by either pre-approved or industry self substantiated, while the higher level health claims, such as 'calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis' will require pre-approval by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

"All health claims will be required to be supported by scientific evidence and will only be permitted on foods that meet specific eligibility criteria, including nutrition criteria," the ministers said.

"The new Standard aims to ensure that consumers can have confidence that health claims are evidence based.
"When gazetted, food businesses will have three years to meet the requirements of the new Standard."

During this three year grace period FSANZ will carry out additional work such as the refining of the nutrient profiling scoring criteria, and the development and implementation of processes to maintain scientific currency of pre-approved food-health relationships.

Industry support

The new regulations have been supported by CHOICE, which stated that the decision, and the nutrient profiling score, is positive for consumers and helps to provide an objective benchmark for food healthiness.

“These nutritional criteria were agreed following extensive work by the independent regulator and provide a robust and objective approach to determining which food products are healthy enough overall to carry health marketing claims,” CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just said.

Following the announcement Uncle Toby's will move to ensure all of its 44 breakfast cereals meet the new criteria.

The manufacturer explained that it is part of the company's wider five year plan to reduce fats, sugar, and sodium in its products.

"Today, we are committing to consumers that by the end of January our entire range of UNCLE TOBYS cereals will meet the nutrition eligibility criteria of the new standard, meaning that every one of our cereals could carry a health claim,” Uncle Toby's nutrition manager Nilani Sritharan said.

Falling short

Despite agreeing with the move, CHOICE felt that the decision to allow food manufacturers to evaluate the evidence behind the health claims, as opposed to independent regulators, damages consumer confience.

“This is a major step backwards from an earlier proposal that would have required the independent regulator to scrutinise new claims, which was scuttled after an intense industry lobbying campaign,” Just said.

“When we look at what happened in Europe, where the European Food Safety Authority rejected 80% of the health claims put forward by food companies, we can see that the food industry has a very different idea of what constitutes scientific evidence to independent regulators."

The backlash

However the move by the government group has not been universally welcomed.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) was quick to slam the new regulations, claiming that it "will stifle innovation and industry competiveness".

"Today’s decision by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation to impose additional regulation on nutrition content and health claims will result in unnecessary costs, discourage innovation and reduce trade competitiveness of the food processing sector," it said.

AFGC chief Gary Dawson decried the new regulations as regressive step, saying that "the Australian food processing industry needs policy reform that bolsters business competitiveness. Unfortunately the Commonwealth and the majority of members of the Forum on Food Regulation have ignored the advice of the AFGC and those states representing the bulk of the food manufacturing sector.

“The new Health Claims Standard is a disproportionate response to a non-issue that will discourage innovation in food products, increase regulatory costs, discourage investment and ultimately pose a competitive disadvantage for domestic manufacturers."

He went on to say that “this decision comes just two days after the Government announced its commitment to reduce red tape and review unnecessary regulation. It is also inconsistent with the broader policy emphasis on reshaping the manufacturing sector to take advantage of the Asian Century.

“In the current difficult trading environment any additional regulation or impost that adds to costs runs a high risk of pushing production and jobs offshore.

“Instead of streamlining approvals, the new standard will impose an onerous substantiation process that goes well beyond equivalent regulation in Europe or US.”

On the sidelines

While the main focus was on the new health and nutrition claims, the food minister also noted progress for labelling across a number of different areas.

Regarding front of pack labelling, the ministers said the collaborative process to develop a new rating system has progressed well.

They also noted that the review of the Policy Guideline on the Addition of Caffeine to Foods is underway, with public consultation on the Policy Guideline scheduled for March next year.

The agreement for an Australian standard on country of origin labelling to include all unpackaged meat products was welcomed by CHOICE.

“We know Australian consumers have a strong desire to know where their food is produced, and this is a welcome move to close one of the key country-of-origin loopholes,” Just stated.

Minister at the forum also sought to push a review on the proposed standard for low THC hemp as a food, with ministers to seek advice from the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Services.

Mixed reaction on new health labelling laws

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation has approved proposals to regulate food manufacturers' products nutrition content and health claims.

These new regulations will create stricter controls over on-pack health claims, including the need to provide scientific evidence to support claims and meet specific eligibility criteria including nutrition criteria.

The move came on the same day the Gillard Government announced a range of measurers to bolster the strength of Australia's manufacturing sector – promising the first round of the $236 million Industrial Transformation Research Program will focus on food research.

Meeting in Brisbane on Friday the various ministers considered the review report for the draft Standard for Nutrition, Health and Related Claims provided by the Board of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and agreed to enact new laws early next year that will regulate the voluntary use of nutrition content and health claims, general level health claims, and high level health claims.

These changes will force manufacturers to have health claims such as 'calcium is good for strong bones' to be supported by either pre-approved or industry self substantiated, while the higher level health claims, such as 'calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis' will require pre-approval by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

"All health claims will be required to be supported by scientific evidence and will only be permitted on foods that meet specific eligibility criteria, including nutrition criteria," the ministers said.

"The new Standard aims to ensure that consumers can have confidence that health claims are evidence based.
"When gazetted, food businesses will have three years to meet the requirements of the new Standard."

During this three year grace period FSANZ will carry out additional work such as the refining of the nutrient profiling scoring criteria, and the development and implementation of processes to maintain scientific currency of pre-approved food-health relationships.

Industry support

The new regulations have been supported by CHOICE, which stated that the decision, and the nutrient profiling score, is positive for consumers and helps to provide an objective benchmark for food healthiness.

“These nutritional criteria were agreed following extensive work by the independent regulator and provide a robust and objective approach to determining which food products are healthy enough overall to carry health marketing claims,” CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just said.

Following the announcement Uncle Toby's will move to ensure all of its 44 breakfast cereals meet the new criteria.

The manufacturer explained that it is part of the company's wider five year plan to reduce fats, sugar, and sodium in its products.

"Today, we are committing to consumers that by the end of January our entire range of UNCLE TOBYS cereals will meet the nutrition eligibility criteria of the new standard, meaning that every one of our cereals could carry a health claim,” Uncle Toby's nutrition manager Nilani Sritharan said.

Falling short

Despite agreeing with the move, CHOICE felt that the decision to allow food manufacturers to evaluate the evidence behind the health claims, as opposed to independent regulators, damages consumer confience.

“This is a major step backwards from an earlier proposal that would have required the independent regulator to scrutinise new claims, which was scuttled after an intense industry lobbying campaign,” Just said.

“When we look at what happened in Europe, where the European Food Safety Authority rejected 80% of the health claims put forward by food companies, we can see that the food industry has a very different idea of what constitutes scientific evidence to independent regulators."

The backlash

However the move by the government group has not been universally welcomed.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) was quick to slam the new regulations, claiming that it "will stifle innovation and industry competiveness".

"Today’s decision by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation to impose additional regulation on nutrition content and health claims will result in unnecessary costs, discourage innovation and reduce trade competitiveness of the food processing sector," it said.

AFGC chief Gary Dawson decried the new regulations as regressive step, saying that "the Australian food processing industry needs policy reform that bolsters business competitiveness. Unfortunately the Commonwealth and the majority of members of the Forum on Food Regulation have ignored the advice of the AFGC and those states representing the bulk of the food manufacturing sector.

“The new Health Claims Standard is a disproportionate response to a non-issue that will discourage innovation in food products, increase regulatory costs, discourage investment and ultimately pose a competitive disadvantage for domestic manufacturers."

He went on to say that “this decision comes just two days after the Government announced its commitment to reduce red tape and review unnecessary regulation. It is also inconsistent with the broader policy emphasis on reshaping the manufacturing sector to take advantage of the Asian Century.

“In the current difficult trading environment any additional regulation or impost that adds to costs runs a high risk of pushing production and jobs offshore.

“Instead of streamlining approvals, the new standard will impose an onerous substantiation process that goes well beyond equivalent regulation in Europe or US.”

On the sidelines

While the main focus was on the new health and nutrition claims, the food minister also noted progress for labelling across a number of different areas.

Regarding front of pack labelling, the ministers said the collaborative process to develop a new rating system has progressed well.

They also noted that the review of the Policy Guideline on the Addition of Caffeine to Foods is underway, with public consultation on the Policy Guideline scheduled for March next year.

The agreement for an Australian standard on country of origin labelling to include all unpackaged meat products was welcomed by CHOICE.

“We know Australian consumers have a strong desire to know where their food is produced, and this is a welcome move to close one of the key country-of-origin loopholes,” Just stated.

Minister at the forum also sought to push a review on the proposed standard for low THC hemp as a food, with ministers to seek advice from the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Services.

Peach growers to lose thousands from SPC Ardmona cuts

Australian peach growers say they were only informed of SPC Ardmona’s decision to cut its peach quota by almost 20 per cent after they had begun preparing for season.

The growers say the short notice will leave them out of pocket, with some individual businesses set to lose tens of thousands of dollars.

SPC Ardmona, Australia’s last remaining major Australian-owned fruit processor, says it genuinely believed it had informed all growers in advance, and will work to ensure communication methods improve in future.

The company cut its peach quota by 17 per cent due to “significant fall” in consumer demand.

It said the cut was necessary due as sales have decreased by 14 per cent, despite increased activity and promotion.

SPC Ardmona also pointed to the high Australian dollar as part of the reason for the cut to the quota, as well as the cheap imports flooding the market as a result of the supermarket price wars.

Furthermore, the high Australian dollar has impacted on export opportunities for the products, while increasing competing pressures from cheaper imports.

SPC Ardmona is a subsidiary of Coca Cola Amatil which has announced expansion plans in its drinks business as previously reported in Australian Food News.

Earlier this year the company announced it would be embracing new packaging technology to reduce costs.

Consumers want Australian-made and grown food

Nearly half of all shoppers go out of their way to buy Australian-made produce, while more than a third buy Australian wherever possible, according to a recent survey.

Commissioned by the Daily Telegraph, the survey asked readers about their shopping habits and whether they care where their food comes from, and has shed some surprising results about our weekly shopping habits.

Sixty six per cent of people said that check the country-of-origin labels to see where their food came from before buying, while seventy per cent said they were not swayed by price over origin.

A huge 93 per cent of people wanted more clarification in food labelling with a third  saying they would be happy to pay an extra $2 for Australian-made and grown produce.

The Australian Food Statistics 2010/2011 report shows that imports have risen by $500 million in a year to $10.6 billion, with processed fruit and vegetable having the biggest growth, up by $119 million.

As Food Magazine reported last week, research conducted by the Australian Made Australian Grown campaign has shown that while more than 50 per cent of Aussies will buy cheap imported clothes, hardware, furniture and household appliances, 9 in 10 prefer buying food grown and manufactured here.

Australian Made Australian Grown Campaign chief executive Ian Harrison said that it was good to see that buying local food and drink is at the forefront of Australian’s minds.

Earlier this month consumer advocacy group CHOICE released the results of their survey into the country of origin of product ingredients, comparing home-branded products from Coles and Woolworth’s private labels with leading supplier brands, which found  just 55 per cent of Coles’ products and 38 per cent of Woolworths’ products were grown or manufactured locally, compared with 92% of market leader groceries.

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