Country of origin labelling

The jargon surrounding country of origin confuses consumers.
Learn more

02.Private labels and imported food

How private labels stack up?

While country of origin is important to consumers, they’re also value conscious and want bang for their buck. Private labels - also known as 'supermarket brands' or 'homebrands' - are gaining a foothold in this area and are becoming serious competitors to their national brand equivalents. Private labels have 100% household penetration according to Nielsen Homescan Research and the average grocery spend on these products continues to rise. A Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey questioned consumers on their perception of private labels:

  • 46% of Australian consumers said private labels are a good alternative to name brands.
  • 42% said most private label quality is as good as name brands.
  • 38% said private label brands have cheap-looking packaging.
  • 31% said some private label brand products are of higher quality than name brands.
  • 31% said private label brands are as good as name brands.
  • 16% said private label brands are not suitable for products when quality matters.

Woolworths has a number of private label product categories, including Homebrand, Woolworths Select and Macro Wholefoods Market, with about 96% of Woolworths’ fresh food products grown in Australia and approximately 75% of branded packaged grocery products sourced from local manufacturers.

Coles has about 2100 private label product lines across its Smartbuy, Coles and Coles Finest brands and was praised earlier in the year by AMAG as having over 900 products carrying the Australian Made logo. Coles chooses to source products from overseas if Australian suppliers are unable to meet their product specifications or volume requirements.

Aldi is unique in that its grocery range consists predominantly of exclusively branded goods, each with their own individual brand identities. Its Australian stores source 100% of fresh meat, 97% of dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables from Australian farmers. Aldi too sources from overseas if their conditions can’t be met in Australia.

Is imported food safe?

There are strict processes in place to ensure the safety of food entering Australia. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) keeps a watchful eye on imported foods and once these enter Australia they are subject to the Imported Food Inspection Scheme (IFIS). Under the scheme, food must first pass quarantine requirements and then pass food safety requirements. The inspection service is part of a broad regulatory system established in Australia. Food policy decisions are made by the Australia New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, while FSANZ sets safety standards for all food, detailed in the Food Standards Code.

A recent example of the work involved in ensuring imported is safe is FSANZ’s response in relation to imported food from Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami, and resulting nuclear crisis. The Japanese Government placed restrictions on certain foods sourced from areas where there has been radiation contamination. On 23 March, FSANZ responded by requesting that AQIS test fresh or frozen seafood, seaweed, milk and fresh fruit and vegetables coming from four Japanese regions – Fukushima, Gunma, Ikaraki and Tochigi. While FSANZ views the risk of Australian consumers being exposed to radionuclides from imported food from Japan as negligible, this is a precautionary measure. You can find more information about what testing is taking place on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website - imported food notice 5/11.


Sign up to our free

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

Your say - Choice voice

Make a Comment

Members – Sign in on the top right to contribute to comments