Survey proves Kiwis want CoOL
More than 70% of New Zealanders want mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for fruit and vegetables.
In the wake of a new survey that comes down hard in favour of CoOL, Hort NZ has launched a major campaign to tell the government that New Zealanders want CoOL.
Horticulture New Zealand believes CoOL is the only way to ensure the consumer gets to make the right choice for them. And consumers agree.
Recently HortNZ and Consumer NZ recently surveyed consumers, asking what they thought of CoOL.
The results speak for themselves;
According to the survey results, 71% of New Zealanders want to know where their fresh, tinned, and frozen fruit and vegetables come from; only 9% outright disagreed with mandatory CoOL. People were also asked where they mainly bought fruit and vegetables:
• 78% said from supermarkets • 15% said from a local fruit and vege store • 3% from a local farmers’ market • And 4% from another specialty store.
The big supermarkets display CoOL voluntarily.
Some 70% of respondents said that buying New Zealand produce was important to them, and knowing where it came from mattered.
Getting mandatory CoOL would mean that labelling of fruit and vege in store would be required by law. It’s about conforming to an industry guideline already followed by many of our trading partners and competitors.
Hort NZ says many of the vague and unhelpful country of origin information labels provided on products, particularly processed product, verge on being misleading or even deceptive.
A packet of blueberries could have a picture of New Zealand on the bag, but there is no guarantee that they came from New Zealand, and that kind of advertising is entirely legal, with the manufacturer under no oblication to tell us where their product came from.
Even if a product says ‘made in New Zealand’, it doesn’t ensure that it’s actually a New Zealand product; ingredients sourced from everywhere except New Zealand can be packaged in New Zealand and be labelled ‘made in New Zealand’ quite legally.
Most countries already have mandatory country of origin labelling, and
Hort NZ believes New Zealand should follow suit on fruit and vegetables. As our international markets grow, where food comes from is an important consumer choice issue. But not only do the consumers want to buy New Zealand grown, they deserve to know where all their food comes from.
Hort NZ says the voluntary system we currently use simply isn’t enough to guarantee the consumers’ right to information. When surveyed, Kiwis said they could always find CoOL on just 32% of fresh fruit, and 29% of fresh vegetables. This haphazard and lackadaisical labelling deprives consumers of the information they want; they are subject to the whims of the shop selling the produce, and whether or not the shop feels like providing country of origin information.
“New Zealand law does not require country of origin for fruit and vegetables to be disclosed to shoppers at the point of purchase. We want that to change,” says Hort NZ chief executive Mike Chapman.
Mike says the survey was nationally representative, conducted by a reputable organisation, and the results were clear.
“If you drill down, four out of five people buy fresh fruit and vegetables at least once a week, and most of them support mandatory CoOL,” he says. “We aim to deliver that.”
Why don’t we already have CoOL? Well, some think it may be a barrier to trade. But realistically, that doesn’t add up; we are gaining free trade agreements with much larger markets than our own, and none of them are hiding the fact that this produce comes from New Zealand, because our produce is recognised globally as being of the highest quality.
Hort NZ would like to see New Zealand join the international standard, and give consumers much more information about the fruit and vege they eat every day.
A new and refreshed Country of Origin Labeling campaign aims to make this happen. The campaign, recently launched, is live now, and hopes to bring CoOL into the public eye, and encourage government to listen to what the people want. The Facebook page for the campaign can be found here. Get involved, and show New Zealand that we want CoOL, and we want it now.