Frequently asked questions for importers
Below are some frequently asked questions on how the Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) changes apply to importers.
- How are imported foods affected under the new standard?
- Which foods are impacted?
- When do the changes take effect?
- Can I amend the labelling on my imported food after it arrives in Australia?
- What should the label look like for imported foods?
- What’s the right label to use?
- What label do I use if the imported food contains Australian ingredients?
- Would the new Information Standard affect the tariff heading for my product?
- How do I get more information?
See frequently asked questions for importers in other languages.
How are imported foods affected under the new standard?
The Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 (the Information Standard) will mean minimal change for food imported into Australia.
Imported food will continue to require a label with a country of origin statement (e.g. Product of Thailand, Made in Canada). For some foods, known as priority foods, this statement must be placed within a clearly defined box on the product label.
To meet the requirements, you may either:
- source imported products that already have the required labels
- edit the labels to meet requirements once the products have arrived in Australia.
As imported foods are not made, grown or produced in Australia they are not eligible to display the kangaroo symbol on food labels.
Which foods are impacted?
The Information Standard requires most food suitable for retail sale in Australia to carry a country of origin label. The Information Standard applies to:
- food for retail sale in Australia (e.g. food sold to the public in stores or markets, or from vending machines)
- packaged food sold by wholesalers
- many unpackaged foods.
The country of origin statement on imported foods must be placed within a clearly defined box on the label of the food product, unless the food product is a non-priority food.
Non-priority foods are:
- confectionery, including ice-cream
- biscuits and snack foods
- bottled water
- sports drinks and soft drinks
- tea and coffee
- alcoholic beverages.
All other foods are priority foods and will need to carry the new labels.
When do the changes take effect?
The Information Standard started on 1 July 2016 and has a two year transition period. During the transition period businesses can either:
- continue to label products according to the existing requirements set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Food Standards Code), or
- adopt the new labelling requirements of the Information Standard.
From 1 July 2018, food must be labelled according to the requirements of the Information Standard or penalties will apply. However, stock in trade (food products that are packaged and labelled according to the Food Standards Code on or before 30 June 2018) can still be sold without the new labels.
Can I amend the labelling on my imported food after it arrives in Australia?
Yes. You may amend labels after food arrives in Australia to ensure it complies with the Information Standard.
What should the label look like for imported foods?
Food that is not grown, produced, made or packed in Australia is classified as imported food. Under the Information Standard, imported packaged priority food must carry a country of origin text statement in a clearly defined box. They are not allowed to use the kangaroo symbol as the product is not of Australian origin. Labelling requirements for non-priority foods have not changed.
What’s the right label to use?
Below are some examples to help you understand how to correctly label your imported ‘priority food’ product.
If the imported food is made, grown or produced in a single country, a statement on the label such as this can be used.
A ‘Packed in’ statement is required if the food cannot claim to have been grown, produced or made in a single overseas country.
In this case the label must also indicate that the food comes from multiple origins or is comprised of imported ingredients.
If the ingredients for the imported food are sourced from different countries and substantially transformed in another, a ‘Made in’ statement should be used.
For example, raw ingredients from Canada, the United States of America and Mexico are combined in an American factory to make a packaged cake that is imported into Australia for retail sale. In this instance, the appropriate text statement would be ‘Made in USA’.
What label do I use if the imported food contains Australian ingredients?
If a food imported into Australia contains some Australian ingredients, it still must carry the mandatory statement showing the food’s country of origin in a clearly defined box. As an option, you may also include a statement of the percentage of Australian ingredients in the food.
A fruit jam is made in New Zealand from Australian cherries and other ingredients. The cherries are all Australian and make up 73% of the product. A country of origin statement or a two component standard mark label would both be acceptable.
- Mandatory explanatory text
- Voluntary text
If less than 10 per cent of the ingredients by ingoing weight are Australian—the explanatory text may state that the food was made or packed ‘from less than 10 per cent Australian ingredients’ instead of ‘from at least’ a minimum percentage of Australian ingredients.
You can also highlight the origin of a particular ingredient in your explanatory text as an option.
Would the new Information Standard affect the tariff heading for my product?
The Information Standard does not affect the tariff heading.
How do I get more information?
For more information, call business.gov.au on 13 28 46 or visit our country of origin food labelling page.
Frequently asked questions for importers in other languages
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