According to The Australian Financial Review, food manufacturers will be required to include new country-of-origin food labels that will include a bar-chart displaying what proportion of the ingredients is locally grown.
The labelling system, which arose from the outcry earlier this year over hepatitis associated with imported Chinese frozen berries, is expected to cost manufacturers and consumers $37 million to introduce. Stock displaying the code is expected to be on supermarket shelves later this year.
Government opinion polling found more than 80 per cent of consumers were willing to pay 1¢ extra on a $5 food item to ensure accurate labelling.
Of those, more than 50 per cent were willing to pay an increase of 5 per cent in food costs to ensure better labelling.
The cost of the new system will be met by consumers who, the government estimates, will see a 1¢ increase on a $5 food item, or 0.5¢ increase on a $2.50 food item.
"I should point out that there are already significant labelling costs on Australian businesses as Australian businesses are already required to have the nutritional information," Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said.
The new government label will include the existing green-and-gold kangaroo and triangle "Australian made" icon, with a bar chart showing what proportion of the ingredients is from Australia.
It will distinguish between products using overseas ingredients and packed in Australia. For example, "Made in Australia from 100 per cent Australian ingredients", "Packed in Australia, Made in Canada" and "Made in Australia from Australian carrots and French peas."
The initial rollout of the scheme will be voluntary so there could be changes on supermarket shelves later this year. However, the Commonwealth will need the agreement of the states and territories to go ahead with the mandatory new rules in 2016.
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