1 Jun 2017

A parliamentary food show and tell

From The House, 6:55 pm on 1 June 2017

The Primary Production committee is plowing its way through 288 submissions on a Bill requiring country of origin labels on food.

 

Labour MP Michael Wood rises to Sue Kedgley's challenge to identify the origin of a pack of bacon.

Labour MP Michael Wood rises to Sue Kedgley's challenge to identify the origin of a pack of bacon. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

 

Those submitting on the bill include people representing a range of producers, retailers, and consumers.

 

Former Green MP Sue Kedgley had once championed an earlier version of this same bill but appeared as a submitter.

 

She said that Garlic origin labelling had rescued local garlic producers, but a lack of labelling is damaging local pork producers, who are being swamped by imported pork.

 

She brought a packet of bacon as a prop and challenged committee MPs to try to figure out from its labelling where it really came from.

 

Former Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says local pork producers. who are swamped by imported pork, will benefit from origin labelling.

Former Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says local pork producers. who are swamped by imported pork, will benefit from origin labelling. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

 

Ian Carter from New Zealand Pork was equally enthusiastic about labelling and wanted customers to be able to tell if the pork in shops was only butchered locally but raised overseas.

 

Former National MP Katherine Rich, representing the NZ Food and Grocery Council brought along an array of processed food stuffs - coffee, sugar, flour etc and argued that the ingredients in processed foods came from too many places to be able to say where they are from, and what people care about is what they taste like.

 

The Food and Grocery Council are against mandatory labelling, and prefer a voluntary system.

 

But supporting a mandatory scheme Consumer New Zealand had also brought props - they had taken photos in Wellington supermarkets to demonstrate that the labels that supermarkets put on fruit and vegetables can be plain wrong - labeling imported food as locally grown.

 

National MP Chester Borrows looks at photos of supermarket signs which incorrectly label the origin of produce.

National MP Chester Borrows looks at photos of supermarket signs which incorrectly label the origin of produce. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

 

A survey that Consumer had conducted in association with Horticulture New Zealand found that only nine percent of respondents did not want mandatory country of origin labelling on fruit and vegetables.

 

The committee is due to report back with suggested amendments on the Bill in November.