Australian fare


Does country of origin labelling reveal if the 'Aussie food' you're eating is made from Australian ingredients?

Aussie? Aussie? Aussie?


Country of origin is an important food labelling issue for consumers. And being able to support Aussie farmers, reduce food miles or keep food manufacturing jobs in Australia is crucial for many. But a look at the labelling of a range of 'typically' Aussie food products revealed it's often difficult to tell where the ingredients come from.

In this article:

Whether you're buying lamingtons, meat pies or pavlovas, current country of origin labelling frequently doesn't let you be confident you're supporting local growers and producers. And some typical 'Aussie' products aren't as Australian as you might think.

To help us ensure that the new country of origin labelling will let consumers make an informed decision about where their food is coming from, please complete our survey.

Can you tell where your Aussie food comes from?

We looked at the country of origin statements on 32 quintessentially Aussie foods from Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and leading brands and found that for many it was impossible to tell if they were made from Australian ingredients. Our key findings:

  • Twelve products – including Tim Tams, lamingtons from Aldi and Woolworths and Vegemite – simply state 'Made in Australia'. This means the product was made in Australia and at least 50% of the cost to produce the product was incurred here, but doesn't tell you where the ingredients were grown or sourced. In fact a product with this statement may not contain any Aussie ingredients at all.
  • A further six products – Coles lamingtons and Unibic Anzac biscuits included – are labelled 'Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients'. This goes beyond the above definition in letting you know that at least some of the ingredients are local – just not which ones or where the other ingredients are from.
  • Meat pies vary in the information they provide. Aldi's Elmsbury Chunky Beef Pies and Woolworths Select Beef pies carry the claim '100% Australian Beef' in addition to their 'Made in Australia' statements and images of Aussie flags, whereas the cheaper 'meat pies' from both retailers – and the beef and meat pies from Coles and the "great Australian taste" Four'n Twenty traditional meat pies – don't. The 'Australianness' of the products is implied, however, by the images of Australian flags, the Australian Made kangaroo logo and even a squirt of tomato sauce in the shape of Australia.
  • Coles' pavlova base is labelled 'Product of Australia', which means that each significant ingredient or part of the product originated in Australia and most, if not all, of the production processes occurred here.
  • The canned passionfruit pulp products were variously from China, Peru and Thailand, so if you want to top your pav with guaranteed Aussie passionfruit, opt for the fresh versions – these were locally sourced in the Aldi, Coles and Woolworths we visited.
  • The tiger prawns (cooked and frozen/thawed) in the supermarkets we visited were all labelled 'Product of Australia'.

Straight to the source

For each product where it was unclear from the label where the ingredients were from, we contacted the relevant company for clarification. At the time of publication only Arnott's, Aldi, Coles and Woolworths had responded.

So how Aussie are the products in question?

Arnott's referred us to a page on its website which details the ingredients which go into Tim Tams. This reveals the cocoa mass is from West Africa, the cocoa butter is from South East Asia, the milk solids are Australian, over half the sugar is from Queensland (the rest is from Thailand), the flour is Australian and the certified sustainable palm oil is from Malaysia. Arnott's told us that some ingredients, such as cocoa, aren't available for purchase locally in the quantities it requires.

An Aldi Australia spokesperson told us that the key ingredients of meat and wheat flour in its Elmsbury Meat Pies and and sugar and flour in its Cake Stall Lamington Fingers (18pk, 350g) are all sourced from Australia.

A Coles spokesperson told us that all Coles Brand frozen meat pies are made with 100% Australian meat; Coles Anzac Biscuits contain wheat flour, sugar, sugar syrup, oats and eggs all produced in Australia; Coles Brand and Smart Buy lamingtons contain water, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and canola oil all produced in Australia; and that Coles Chocolate Surrenders contain wheat flour, sugar, golden syrup and milk powder all produced in Australia.

Woolworths told us its Woolworths Select Pavlova base is made from 97.5% Australian ingredients, Homebrand Meat Pies have 92% Australian ingredients, Woolworths Bakery Anzac Biscuits have 75% Australian ingredients, Woolworths Select Lamington Fingers 53% and Homebrand Choc Lamington Fingers 60% Australian ingredients.

According to Woolies both the Anzac biscuits and lamingtons use imported coconut, as this is not readily available in Australia in the volumes required. It's in the process of reformulating its lamingtons to use Australian sugar, which will increase the Australian ingredients in each line (Woolworths Select and Homebrand) by 20%.

Country of origin labels soon to change

The government has recognised the need for better country of origin labels and has released its proposed solution. It's seeking feedback on the new labels, so we need your help.

CHOICE wants to make sure we get a consumer-driven solution, but there are some manufacturers objecting to sensible changes where more transparency is needed.

For example, the new system calculates the percentage of Australian ingredients in a product which is then displayed in a bar chart on the label. This is great for consumers who want to know how much of a product was manufactured or grown locally, and those who make it a priority to support Australian products. But there's currently no requirement for producers to list the origin of any non-Australian main ingredients.

To have your say on the new country of origin labelling, please complete our survey.

Country of origin of 'Aussie' foods

We looked at the country of origin statements on 32 'Aussie' food products, listed below in alphabetical order by brand. To order by another criteria, simply click on the column headings.

Food Brand Product name Country of origin statement on pack What the label didn't tell us
Anzac biscuits Coles The Bakery at Coles Anzac Biscuits 12 pk Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients wheat flour, sugar, sugar syrup, oats and egg
ingredients are produced in Australia
Anzac biscuits leading brand Unibic Anzac Biscuits 300g Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients
Anzac biscuits Woolworths Woolworths Anzac Biscuit Family Pack 24 pk 575g (bakery) Packed by Woolworths 75% Australian ingredients
Chocolate-coated biscuits Aldi Belmont Biscuit Co Chocolate Just Devine 200g Made in the Netherlands from imported and local ingredients
Chocolate-coated biscuits Coles Coles Chocolate Surrenders 200g Made in Australia wheat flour, sugar, golden syrup and milk powder
ingredients are produced in Australia
Chocolate-coated biscuits leading brand Arnott's Tim Tams Original 200g Made in Australia cocoa mass from West Africa
cocoa butter from South East Asia
milk solids from Australia
sugar from Queensland and Thailand
flour from Australia
palm oil from Malaysia
Chocolate-coated biscuits Woolworths Woolworths Select Chocolate Sandwich 200g Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients
Lamingtons Aldi The Cake Stall Lamington Fingers 18 pack 350g Made in Australia sugar and flour are sourced in Australia
Lamingtons Coles Coles Lamington Fingers 18 pack 350g Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients caster sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and canola oil
ingredients are produced in Australia
Lamingtons Coles Coles Smart Buy 24 Lamington Fingers 465g Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients caster sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and canola oil
ingredients are produced in Australia
Lamingtons Woolworths Woolworths Select 18 Lamington Fingers 350g Made in Australia 53% Australian ingredients
Lamingtons Woolworths Homebrand Choc Lamington Fingers 18 pack 350g Made in Australia 60% Australian ingredients
Meat pie, frozen Aldi Elmsbury Chunky Beef Pies 4 pack 700g Made in Australia (100% Australian beef)
Meat pie, frozen Aldi Elmsbury 4 Meat Pies 700g Made in Australia meat and wheat flour are sourced in Australia
Meat pie, frozen Coles Coles Beef Pies 4 pack 700g Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients made with 100% Australian meat
Meat pie, frozen Coles Coles Smart Buy 6 Meat Pies 900g Made in Australia from Australian and imported ingredients made with 100% Australian meat
Meat pie, frozen leading brand Four'n Twenty 4 Traditional Meat Pies 700g Made in Australia
Meat pie, frozen Woolworths Woolworths Select Beef Pies 4 pack 700g Made in Australia (100% Australian beef)
Meat pie, frozen Woolworths Homebrand Meat Pies 6 pack 900g Made in Australia 92% Australian ingredients
Passionfruit pulp, canned Aldi Sweet Valley Passionfruit Pulp 170g Product of Thailand
Passionfruit pulp, canned Coles Coles Passionfruit Pulp in Syrup 170g Made in China from local and imported ingredients.
Passionfruit from China
Passionfruit pulp, canned leading brand John West Passionfruit Pulp in Syrup 170g Product of Peru
Passionfruit pulp, canned Woolworths Woolworths Select Passionfruit Pulp 170g Made in China
Passionfruit, fresh Aldi passionfruit 6-pack Product of Australia
Passionfruit, fresh Coles passionfruit, loose Product of Australia
Passionfruit, fresh Woolworths passionfruit, loose Australian Grown
Pavlova base Coles Coles Pavlova 500g Product of Australia
Pavlova base Woolworths Woolworths Select Pavlova Base 500g Made in Australia 97.5% Australian ingredients
Prawns, tiger, cooked, frozen or thawed Aldi Ocean Royale Extra Large Tiger Prawns 1.5kg Product of Australia
Prawns, tiger, cooked, frozen or thawed Coles Black Tiger prawns, cooked, thawed (deli) Product of Australia
Prawns, tiger, cooked, frozen or thawed Woolworths Australian tiger prawns, extra large, cooked, frozen (deli) Product of Australia
Yeast/vegetable extract leading brand Kraft Vegemite 150g Made in Australia

Current approved country of origin labelling statements

Approved statement Definition What it doesn't tell us
'Product of [country name]' Each significant ingredient or part of the product originated in the country claimed and almost all of the production processes occurred in that country. This is arguably the most helpful of the current approved statements, but it doesn't guarantee that 100% of that product came from or was processed in that country.
'Made in [country]' The product was 'substantially transformed' in the country claimed with at least 50% of production costs incurred in that country. Where the ingredients were grown or sourced. A product with 'Made in Australia' on the label won't necessarily contain Australian ingredients.
'From local and imported ingredients' The product was largely processed in that country (as per 'Made in'), and that the ingredients come from at least one other country in addition to the one named. Which other countries the ingredients come from, or in what proportion. It's widely believed that if the word 'local' comes before 'imported' then the majority of the ingredients are locally sourced, and vice versa, but the standard doesn't address this so there's no guarantee.

Proposed new labelling

 Proposed country of origin labelling

Supporting local growers and producers

One way to improve your chance of buying Australian is to buy produce that's in season. Resources such as the seasonalfoodguide.com show you what fruits and vegetables are in season in your area at different times of year, as well as where local farmers' markets are located.

For more information on where supermarkets source their food see our supermarket country of origin labelling investigation.


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