A LOOPHOLE in Australia’s labelling laws means supermarkets do not have to list a product’s country of origin on their online shopping websites.
A Food Standards Australia New Zealand spokeswoman said country-of-origin labelling applied only to food packaging.
“The code does not include requirements for labelling at point of purchase (such as a website),” the spokeswoman said.
The loophole means Coles, Woolworths and other retailers can display an image of a product on their websites without any legal requirement to state its country of origin.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s office told The Weekly Times that “at this time the Government is not imposing requirements on online retailers beyond those applicable to bricks and mortar stores”.
“The majority of consumers still shop for groceries in bricks and mortar stores and prefer seeing country-of-origin information on a physical label,” the minister’s spokeswoman said.
“However, in recognition that this sector continues to grow, the Government does encourage online retailers to display origin information digitally when selling online.”
Coles’ online shopping site identified many products as Australian, but most products had no information on their country of origin.
A Coles spokeswoman said: “There is currently no explicit requirement for online statements regarding country-of-origin labelling.
“If a product is unpackaged, country-of-origin information can either be listed on the website or on a form delivered with the product.”
The Weekly Times was unable to find any country-of-origin labelling on Woolworths’ online shopping site, apart from a few cases where Made in Australia was on packaging.
However, Woolworths said it intended to update its online shop to include country-of-origin labelling with all products.
The NAB Online Retail Sales Index shows Australians spent $21.65 billion online in 2016, 7.1 per cent of the “bricks and mortar” spend.
The report found 17 per cent of online spending was on groceries, and that 29.9 per cent of online grocery buyers were aged 65 or older, with another 20.1 per cent aged 55-65.
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said all farmers wanted transparent labelling.