Country of origin packaging design

by | Sep 6, 2017 | Blog

Country of Origin” – Do you know where your food comes from?

Now more than ever Australian consumers are taking a real interest in knowing where their food is coming from. Today’s savvy and informed consumers are more aware of food products beyond their nutritional value and price. Consumers today are placing a premium on sustainable & home grown farming practices, artisanal manufacturing traditions (think hand packing) and certain origins that bring these foods to our supermarket shelves. They want to know whether their food is manufactured in Australia and if you can tell them what state it comes from that’s an added bonus for the brand.

This “Country of Origin” issue has been in the consumer’s purchase consideration set for many years, well before the Australian Government’s introduction of the “Country of Origin food labelling system,” back in July 2016.

The Australian Government’s “Country of Origin food labelling system”

In a nutshell, the Australian Government’s “Country of Origin food labelling system” now means that customers will be able to see if the product was manufactured in Australia & what proportion of the ingredients are Australian. This is not just relevant for packaged goods, the new laws also apply to unpackaged fresh and processed fruit, vegetables, nuts, spices, herbs, legumes, seeds, fish and meat. How? By writing the information on a sign near the food or on labels (where permitted) e.g. stickers on some fruits.

The drive for Country of Origin food labelling is not new

Back in 2012 a CHOICE survey was conducted which clearly showed “country of origin” was a very important food labelling issue for consumers. In fact the survey showed that “Country of Origin food labelling” was a close second to the actual ingredients contained in the food.

Two-thirds of consumers interviewed back then reported feeling strongly about buying Australian to keep food manufacturing jobs in Australia. Three quarters of those interviewed said they felt strongly about buying Australian to support Australian farmers.

Since then issues of carbon footprint, knowing where your food comes from and allegiances to local growers have become primary consumer purchasing drivers.  In fact knowing where food is sourced and grown has become just as important to the Australian consumer today, as knowing where and how the food was made.

Establishing product provenance isn’t just an Aussie food trend

“Country of Origin” is not just an Australian food trend. According to a 2017 UK survey by Elementar UK, 84% of UK respondents inspected where their food had come from. Their research also found that 68% of respondents said that the origin of their food is important in influencing their purchasing decisions.

What’s the brand opportunity for Country of Origin?

This notion of Country of Origin labelling, whilst being another mandatory Government labelling system, does provide a certain opportunity for brands. If you have an authentic Australian brand – then showcase this. But do it in an emotive way. It’s not about whacking an Australian flag on your packaging. Consumers don’t want to be insulted, they don’t want to be categorised as ‘the stereotypical Aussie’. What they’re seeking is unique experiences that make them feel good about themselves and buying local provides the right level of “good feels” for them, but it has to be sophisticated.

The advertising must reflect origin

Consumers also want to know that their food comes from from where it is advertised as coming from.  If it says “Barossa valley” then it must come from there. If it says  Scotch whiskey, then the expectation is that it originates from Scotland. When consumers were asked how they would feel if they purchased a food product being advertised as from a particular region and then only to discover later that it was not…., half (52%) said they would not buy that product again on learning it was mislabelled.

In conclusion

Whether you’re interested in supporting Aussie farmers, reducing food miles or keeping food manufacturing jobs in Australia, it’s important to know where your food comes from. Unfortunately “Made in Australia from imported ingredients” still has the vast number of consumers wondering where their food really comes from.