WITH country of origin labelling in the spotlight, two leading Australian farm representative groups have joined forces to brand Australian produce.
THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) plan to develop standards for MLA's 'True Aussie' brand over the coming year which can then be applied to all Australian agricultural products in domestic and global markets.
In a recent finding against a Chinese-made product labelled as 'Aussie Beer', the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) noted the need for better country of origin representations on Australian produce.
"Consumers will often place a premium on the provenance of a product, but are unable to check the accuracy of those claims," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
"This is particularly the case with Australian-made products which encourage consumers to support local industries. Consumers are entitled to expect that prominent representations made on packaging are accurate without having to check for disclosures in the fine print."
True Aussie was developed by MLA in conjunction with the cattle, sheepmeat and goat industry representative bodies – the Cattle Council of Australia, the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and the Goat Industry Council of Australia.
NFF president Brent Finlay said that Australia has long been a key provider of premium, safe food to the world, and consumers need surety that what they are getting is truly Australian.
“We mean to get this right, so that the brand can apply for all agricultural commodities exported from Australia; and be accepted everywhere as an announcement of the highest quality produce," he said today.
“So we are taking a staged approach. We are at the beginning of a very promising journey.”
While the existing government-backed Australian Made label covers a broad range of products including electronics, jewellery, furniture and clothing as well as food, True Aussie would be "all about agriculture", an NFF spokeswoman said.
The industry-driven initiative will be broader than country of origin and export focused, she said.
True Aussie is already used at major trade shows in key export markets – including China, Europe and the United States – to promote Australian agriculture’s clean, green image, and is also used actively for in-store consumer branding in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and many Middle Eastern markets.
During the 12-month pilot project, the NFF and key industry representatives will develop and examine the relevant standards underpinning True Aussie quality to further extend the brand’s product reach.
MLA managing director Richard Norton said the red meat industry was proud of the brand's achievements in key global markets since its launch last year.
“The red meat industry identified the need for a common brand to underpin the quality and the clean, green and safe positioning of Australian beef and lamb,” Mr Norton said.
“The brand was developed using detailed consumer insights and research about Australia’s positioning in our key export markets.
“The red meat industry is now looking forward to exploring opportunities with the NFF, to evolve the True Aussie brand across a broader range of agricultural products.
“We all need to ensure that the same rigour applied to the red meat industry to use the brand is continued (to new products).
“We are excited by the additional exposure this partnership will bring to True Aussie in our key markets,” he said.
Mr Finlay said the NFF was proud to put its weight and reputation behind the True Aussie name.
“It will be our job to work, with our members, to ensure that a product is True Aussie – from a land where outstanding agricultural practice is backed by world-leading food safety science," he said.