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Kiwis want local fruit and vegies: lobby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/03/2017

Most Kiwis want to buy New Zealand fruit and vegetables and believe every item should carry a label showing country of origin, a survey has found.

The joint Horticulture New Zealand and Consumer NZ survey found 71 per cent of New Zealanders wanted country of origin labelling on fresh, tinned and frozen fruit and vegies and 70 per cent wanted to buy home grown.

"Four out of five people buy fresh fruit and vegetables at least once a week, and most of them support mandatory country of origin labelling," Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Currently, New Zealand law does not require fruit and vegetables to be labelled with their country of origin, but a bill proposing changes is expected to have its first reading in April.

The Green Party on Thursday called for cross-party support on its members bill seeking to make it mandatory for producers to label fresh or single-ingredient products with their country of origin.

"The current voluntary labelling system is just that - voluntary - which means there's no monitoring or enforcement," bill sponsor Steffan Browning said.

"New Zealanders have a right to know where their food comes from and to make an informed choice when they buy. It's time to make that a reality."

Other countries, including Australia, have already introduced mandatory labelling laws.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said 65 per cent of Kiwis already looked for labelling on fresh fruit, but most found it hard to find.

According to Horticulture New Zealand research, 17 of 81 fruit and vegetable products had "vague" statements the product was made or packed in New Zealand or packed in New Zealand from imported ingredients.

"This means it was impossible to tell from the label where the food came from," the group said.

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