Country of origin claims
Country of origin labelling is a notice or label on products to let your customers know what country a product came from. In Australia misleading country of origin labelling is prohibited.
If you sell food in retail stores in Australia, country of origin food labelling laws apply to your products.
Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), certain food products offered or suitable for retail sale will be required to display country of origin information. The ACL doesn’t require non-food products to carry country of origin labelling, although other laws may do so.
Products sold in Australia must not have misleading representations about the country of origin. A representation about country of origin can include words, a picture or both, indicating that goods were made, produced or grown in a particular country.
The representation can be either:
- attached to the goods - for instance, on a label; or
- in promotional material linked to the goods.
Words or pictures that are an essential part of the goods are not necessarily a representation about country of origin.
A t-shirt with a ‘Made in Australia’ label makes a representation about country of origin. A t-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Australia’ as part of its design, does not.
When there is no country of origin representation, you must be careful not to imply one by other statements or signs associated with the goods.
A person may buy a ‘genuine Turkish rug’ believing it is made in Turkey, when it is actually made in China
Representations about country of origin include:
- ‘made in’ a specified country;
- ‘produce of’, ‘product of’ or ‘produced in’ a country;
- use of a prescribed logo; and
- claims that goods, or ingredients or components, were ‘grown in’ a specified country.
You are protected by the law when you make country of origin representations, provided you meet certain criteria.
More information about using the Australian Made label is available from the ACCC's publication Country of origin claims and the Australian Consumer Law.
From 1 July 2018, businesses must meet the requirements of the Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016, made under the ACL. The standard applies to food offered for retail sale in Australia, including in stores or markets, online or from a vending machine. The law does not apply to food sold in places such as restaurants, cafes, take-away shops and schools, or to food provided by caterers.
Businesses offering food products for retail sale in Australia may voluntarily adopt the new standard before 1 July 2018, but must still comply with the Food Standards Code, administered by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, until 1 July 2018.
Under the new system, most foods that are produced, grown or made in Australia will be required to display a label with:
- the kangaroo in a triangle system to help consumers easily and quickly identify the food’s Australian origin
- a text statement indicating that the food was grown, produced, or made in Australia
- a bar chart showing the minimum proportion of Australian ingredients by ingoing weight, shown as a percentage amount.
Country of origin food labelling
A sample of one style of labelling. Watch the video below to see how to apply the labelling to your products.
Labelling requirements will vary depending on the type of food product and whether it was grown, produced, made or packed in Australia or another country.
For most imported food (food that is grown, produced, made or packaged in a country other than Australia), the label should specify the country of origin in a clearly defined box.
The Standard applies to most food offered for retail sale in Australia (e.g. food sold to the public in stores or markets, online or from vending machines) if it is:
- in a package or
- unpackaged seafood, particular meats, fruit and vegetables, nuts, spices, herbs, fungi, legumes, seeds or a mix of these foods.
The Standard does not apply to food that is:
- otherwise unpackaged (e.g. unpackaged cheese, pastries or sandwiches)
- only intended for export to overseas markets
- sold by restaurants, canteens, schools, caterers, self-catering institutions, prisons, hospitals, medical institutions and at fund-raising events (e.g. a cake stall at a school fete)
- made and packaged on the same premises where it is sold (e.g. bread in a bakery)
- delivered and packaged ready for consumption, as ordered by the consumer (e.g. home delivered pizza)
- for special medical purposes
- not for human consumption (e.g. pet food).
For more information, visit the Australian Government’s food labelling website.
Helpful tools and information
Below lists some helpful links to country of origin labelling tools. It is not exhuastive, and most of the pages listed below will lead you through other useful information.
- Business.gov.au tools:
- ACCC tools:
- Country of origin claims and the Australian Consumer Law - for food and non-food products.
- Country of origin food labelling page - advice for businesses on how to comply with the labelling standard.
- Country of origin food labelling guide - help businesses comply with the labelling standard
- Country of origin food labelling webinar - covers practical advice on the new labelling.
- Online education module - Module 11 in the small business program which provides a broad overview of the key provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 including the Australian Consumer Law.
- Specific industry advice:
- Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (Federal) tools:
- Country of origin labelling page - details the information standards and refrom papers.
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