06.How we evaluate
The diversity of the programs’ objectives makes it impossible to compare and rate their underpinning standards or criteria. In order to separate the best from the rest, CHOICE identified a number of key criteria relating to the way a scheme is managed and operated. We used survey responses and additional information from websites, promotional literature and annual reports to evaluate against these criteria.
Transparency We confirmed whether or not the following information is publicly available:
- logo standards/criteria
- how the program is funded
- program board members and governance.
Consumer friendly The scheme should be helpful and accessible to Australian consumers. We checked that consumers:
- can easily access published information about which products are endorsed
- can call a local or free-call number for information and to give feedback
- are formally given opportunities to provide input into decisions about the program.
Conflict of interest We confirmed that mechanisms are in place to avoid and manage any conflicts of interest in decision-making about the scheme.
Stakeholder engagement We checked whether program standards/criteria are open to broad public consultation, which is required under international standards (ISO65) for bodies operating product certification systems. Public consultation can improve a scheme’s transparency, efficiency and effectiveness.
Equitable participation Fee structures should ensure any producer or manufacturer can participate in the scheme, regardless of size or profits. We checked that schemes have fee schedules that are tiered, based on a percentage of sales or a similar structure that caters fairly for producers of different sizes.
Verification All programs in this review have rigorous procedures for verifying compliance with their standards/criteria. To be considered very rigorous, we required verification to be conducted:
- onsite for all producers/farmers or for each product (as applicable)
- by independent third-party auditors
- at least annually.