Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched new steps to provide customers with advice about country of origin labelling claims and olive oil claims.

“Some people will pay a premium for an Australian product or a guarantee of quality. But consumers must know what they are buying,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

In a speech to the Australian Food & Grocery Council in Canberra, Sims addressed the importance of consumers having access to clear and understandable guidance on the claims made on labels, packaging and in advertising about where products have been made or grown.

“The ACCC does not believe there is an essential problem with the current classifications. The problem is people’s understanding of what they mean,” he said.

“The problem arises, it seems to me, if the only label people are looking for is ‘Made in Australia’ when what they want is a product fully from Australian sources. When they realise that a ‘Made in Australia’ product can be made from some overseas ingredients they question the validity of the origin claims.
:They should not. We need a classification system that deals with where a product is made. The problem is they should be looking for a ‘Product of Australia’ label.

“The ACCC is therefore releasing consumer friendly advice to decode the various origin claims of Made in Australia, Product of Australia and Grown in Australia.”

The ACCC is also launching a buying guide for consumers which provides information about the different grades of olive oil products, how they differ as well as some storage tips to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

“With labels and prices varying significantly between and within brands it can be confusing to know which olive oil is best. Claims such as Extra virgin, virgin, pure and light should allow consumers to trust that what's on the label is what's in the bottle,” Sims said.

The ACCC's advice follows enforcement action earlier this year. In May, the Big Olive Company paid two infringement notices totalling $13,200 for labelling products as 'extra virgin olive oil' that the ACCC considered were not.