Sur­vey proves Ki­wis want CoOL

More than 70% of New Zealan­ders want manda­tory Coun­try of Ori­gin La­belling (CoOL) for fruit and veg­eta­bles.

The Orchardist - - News - By Brian McDon­ald

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.

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