The Australian Government is taking steps to make it easier to identify locally-produced seafood as consultation on the proposed Country of Origin Labelling model hospitality settings opens.
In one survey commissioned by the authorities, more than three-quarters of participants said they referred to country of origin information when purchasing food in retail settings. Country of origin labelling is already required for most food sold in retail settings including supermarkets and grocery stories, but not for restaurants, cafes and hotels.
Speaking at the Sydney Fish Market, Australia’s assistant Minister for Manufacturing Tim Ayres said the Australian Government is eager to strike the right balance between improving consumer access to information and being practical and low cost for local businesses to make the necessary changes.
‘Australians should be able to easily find out where their food comes from. Making seafood labelling clearer, simpler and mandatory will mean people will know if they are purchasing premium local produce,’ Tim Ayres said.
The Government’s proposed model would mean businesses need to indicate if seafood is Australian, imported or of mixed origin, containing both Australian and imported seafood.
‘These changes won’t be made overnight. We know businesses will need time to adjust to new labelling requirements and we’ll be working closely with businesses to help them through this transition. We’re seeking feedback on the proposal, and I encourage businesses, consumers and the community to provide feedback. Australia is home to a world-class seafood industry and consumers deserve to know where their seafood is coming from,’ he said.
Consumers have had access to origin information on most food products sold in retail stores since 2018, when the first set of labelling reforms came into full effect.
A cost-benefit analysis of the scheme found that every $1 of costs incurred generated $3.30 in benefits.
CEO of Seafood Industry Australia Veronica Papacosta welcomed the announcement, noting country of origin is one of the most influential factors for a consumer choosing which seafood to buy.
‘The introduction of Country of Origin Labelling in foodservice will allow consumers to make informed decisions about the seafood they buy in restaurants, cafes and take-away food stores across the country, and allow them to support our great Australian seafood producers,’ she commented.
‘Right now, for food safety purposes, the supply chain of seafood is known in foodservice all the way to the kitchen door, however, the information is often not passed on.’