HortNZ defends produce against Aussie mislabeling claims

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HortNZ defends produce against Aussie mislabeling claims

New Zealand's food manufacturers are on the defense, following public comments by Australia's AUSVEG that the neighboring nation abused origin labeling laws for its frozen produce. Broccoli_(4166022531)

AUSVEG's Hugh Gurney told Australia's AM radio show Tuesday that, unknown to the consumer, New Zealand's exports for products such as frozen broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots could very well be sub-standard produce from China.

"There is a current process where produce can leave China as a frozen product, enter New Zealand, where it can be packaged or modified in some way, and then sent to Australia under the labelling law 'Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients,'" Gurney told the radio show.

"Often this produce from China is actually grown in conditions which would not be permitted here so we feel this is quite a deceptive practice."

Gurney called for stricter origin labeling laws to permit Australian consumers to buy local when possible.

Horticulture New Zealand called the allegations ridiculous and accused AUSVEG of scaring Australians into buying local.

“This is blatant protectionist scare-mongering. It is just another example of Australian sour grapes,” said HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock.

“Last week it was beetroot, this week it is frozen vegetables. Australian growers need to stop complaining about competition and start getting better at what they do.”

Silcock added that New Zealand has the legal right to import and process frozen products from China for export elsewhere.

"There is no difference at all between manufactured food products with ‘Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients” on the label or 'Made in New Zealand from local and imported ingredients,'" Silcock said.

“We could walk through the aisles of any Australian supermarket and find dozens of examples of products which have this labelling, which tells you nothing about the origin of the product.”

Photo: Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons


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