New Zealand grown pork products will have modified packaging, as the industry moves in support of plans to require country of origin labelling.
NZ Pork products will now carry labels with the country of origin clearly shown. It will also carry the PigCare accreditation programme label.
PigCare means the pork products are sourced from pigs that have been born and raised in New Zealand and farmed using approved methods.
NZ Pork chairman Ian Carter said about 60 per cent of pork sold in New Zealand was imported from 20 countries around the world.
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“Based on our research, New Zealanders would be very surprised to learn how high the levels of imported food products are in some popular categories,” Carter said.
“The expectation of Kiwi shoppers is that, if a product isn’t from here, they should be told where it is from so they can make an informed choice.”
Currently, country of origin labelling is voluntary in New Zealand, except for wine.
Suppliers could choose not to display the country of origin, but the labels must have the New Zealand or Australian contact details of the producer, manufacturer or importer, for product recalls and customer people get that information.
New Zealand last investigated introducing mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) in 2005, when a joint standard was proposed by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand broke ranks, rejecting the rules, while Australia elected to enforce origin labelling.
The New Zealand government decided COOL would be too costly and complicated given New Zealand manufacturers often used imported ingredients as well as local produce. They also said it was not a food safety issue as imports already have to meet stringent food safety criteria.
Despite the fact that most of our major trading partners require country of origin labelling, the New Zealand government worried it would be seen as protectionism and could affect access to overseas markets for Kiwi exporters.
But food producers were split — the dairy and red meat industries fiercely opposed mandatory labelling, while pork farmers and fruit and vegetable growers supported it, as it would better allow them to compete.
NZ Pork, the statutory board that works on behalf of local pig farmers, promotes a high standard of animal welfare and a sustainable future for the local industry has been calling for all political parties to back the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin Food) Bill.
A Green Party private members bill, the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill, is currently before Parliament.
The bill passed its first reading in Parliament on Wednesday, with the government signalling a u-turn for fresh, single ingredient products. The bill will now head to select committee.
“We hope as this bill progresses, more of our elected representatives will recognise the wishes of their constituents and provide the opportunity for local consumers to understand more about where their food is sourced,” Carter said.
According to independent research conducted by NZ Pork, New Zealanders expect meat they buy in New Zealand was born and raised in New Zealand.