Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    Minister supportive of voluntary State and regional branding

    6/12/2005 12:00 AM

    Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said today he was supportive of voluntary State and regional branding but was wary of forcing businesses to label all Western Australian-grown or produced foods, as such a move might hurt local producers.

    Mr Chance said he would await the final report of the Parliamentary Economic and Industry Standing Committee Inquiry into Production and Marketing of Foodstuffs, which is due in March 2006, before the Government made a decision on additional State and/or regional branding.

    “I welcome the inquiry and anticipate some interesting findings which will help the State Government in its decision making process on the best way forward,” the Minister said.

    “I have always been supportive of voluntary State branding but am wary of any State of Origin certification scheme being forced on the sector.

    “Businesses do not need Government telling them how to market their products. Many companies already use the fact that their produce is grown in WA or within a particular region as a marketing tool. To force them to comply with a mass of red tape would make their products less competitive, because it would be inevitable that costs would be passed on to the consumer.”

    Mr Chance said successful negotiations between himself and food retailers on Country of Origin labelling ahead of the mandatory requirement showed that consultation was the best approach.

    “We should listen to the sector about what works best to make WA produce even more attractive to consumers,” he said.

    “Country of Origin is a food regulation issue, whereas State and regional branding is a promotional issue.”

    “The very successful campaign by The West Australian newspaper resulted in a strong expression of support for Country of Origin branding, but I believe that the debate on the issue was centred on country of origin issues, rather than State-of-origin.

    “I believe consumers can be the driving force on this issue. If people show they want to buy WA produce and demand it from shops and stores, then that is the most effective way to bring about change.

    “If being WA-grown is a strong selling point - and I am sure it is, because we produce some of the best standard produce in the world - then businesses, including retailers, will use it as a marketing tool.”

    Mr Chance said the State Government had a proven record of supporting regional labelling where the demand was driven from local producers - for example, the huge success of areas such as Margaret River and the Great Southern in delivering a whole range of products under what was now a very strong regional brand.

    “This is an example of how allowing industry to make the marketing decisions and supporting them is the best approach,” he said.

    The Minister also reaffirmed his strong support for Country of Origin labelling.

    “Australia’s strict food safety regulations ensure that home-grown food is best,” he said.

    “The Gallop Government has always supported a ‘buy local’ campaign and mandatory CoOL ensures consumers are able to make a more informed choice about the products they are buying.”

    Minister's office: 9213 6700