Engagement with the New Zealand public is clearly showing their desire to have mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) Horticulture New Zealand told the Primary Production Select Committee at Parliament today.
The Select Committee is hearing submissions on the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill before Parliament.
“Firstly, our recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of New Zealanders want mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.
“Further to that survey, we have engaged the public via the social media platform Facebook to ensure they could continue to be part of the conversation about mandatory CoOL on fresh fruit and vegetables.
“In the six weeks since we set up the Facebook page Country of Origin Labelling NZ, our reporting shows we have reached 660,000 people with our messages, with over 15,000 people engaging with our posts. We have had nearly 8,000 positive feedback reactions to posts, compared to only 95 negative feedback reactions.
“We also had nearly 1,000 users click through to make their own submission to the Select Committee – though we don’t know how many actually did – and 725 emails have gone to MPs around New Zealand expressing people’s views about CoOL. This option remains open on the Facebook page so we expect that email traffic to continue.
“This indicates to us that New Zealand consumers, like their Australian cousins who have mandatory CoOL, want to be able to make choices based on their own beliefs and values. The horticulture industry is embracing consumer interest in where food comes from and how it is produced.”
Horticulture New Zealand also spoke to the Select Committee about the myths and misconceptions voiced by opponents of the Bill progressing.
“There is a view that mandatory CoOL in New Zealand will have an impact on trade,” Mr Chapman says. “But the major countries we export to require country of origin labelling and it is allowed under international trade rules. We believe it will in fact, benefit negotiation of trade deals because consumers support country of origin labelling.
“While we appreciate there have been some moves to have CoOL voluntarily, it is not uniform across retail outlets and 66 percent of Consumer NZ survey respondents said they look for CoOL labelling but find it only 32 percent of the time for fruit and 29 percent of the time for vegetables.”