Country of origin labelling for food reforms: evaluation

Date published:
25 February 2022

We evaluated the Country of Origin Labelling for food reforms.

This evaluation began 2 years after the reforms came into full effect in 2018 and took 12 months. We used a range of consultation approaches and engaged an external consultant to ensure we captured views from consumers, businesses, industry and government stakeholders.

The evaluation:

  • found that the CoOL for food reforms were well implemented, effective and met their objectives
  • recommended against making major changes to the requirements at this time.

The former Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, and his ministerial colleagues responded to the evaluation’s findings.

Ministerial statement

It is important Australians know where their food products are made and what proportion comes from Australian grown ingredients.

In 2016, the Australian Government enacted reforms to Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) regulations making it easier for consumers to get clear food origin information when grocery shopping.

The reforms led to the creation of a standard CoOL labelling mark, comprising the iconic kangaroo logo, a bar chart indicating the percentage of Australian ingredients and an explanatory text statement.

To ensure their ongoing effectiveness, the government committed to evaluate the reforms two years after the CoOL for food scheme came into full effect in 2018. This evaluation is now complete.

Following extensive consultation with industry, the agricultural sector and the community, the evaluation found the CoOL scheme was well implemented, effective, and has met its objectives.

Consumers now have easier access to higher quality country of origin information on their food without the impost of excessive ongoing costs on businesses.

The government agrees with the primary recommendation from the evaluation, not to make any major changes to the CoOL for food scheme at this time.

The government’s priority is to facilitate a business-led recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensure Australia emerges as a stronger, more resilient and more competitive economy.

Many Australian businesses, particularly in the food service sector, have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and major changes to CoOL could disproportionately impact small businesses.

Whilst major changes are not warranted at this time, the government is committed to maintaining the integrity and operation of the CoOL for food scheme. We will do this by:

  • exploring voluntary options for CoOL in food service, particularly seafood
  • further considering business and consumer concerns that the ‘Made in’ claim can be misunderstood, particularly for processed pork and other meat products
  • exploring the scope and timing of options to strengthen consumer awareness, understanding and business compliance with the CoOL scheme
  • continue monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of the scheme.

Separate to the CoOL scheme, the government will continue to monitor imported cut flowers for compliance with biosecurity measures and strengthen where required.

The government would like to thank all those who participated in the CoOL evaluation.