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Australian Made Peanut Butter... Really?

There it is on the front in big bold letters, “MADE IN AUSTRALIA”, great stuff.
There it is on the back too in big bold letters, “MADE IN AUSTRALIA”. It goes on, “PROUDLY MADE ON THE CENTRAL COAST OF NSW”. Makes you feel all gooey inside doesn’t it.
But wait, then it says, “USING IMPORTED PEANUTS”, what the…
Hey, what’s it say in that little box at the bottom left of the back label with the Australian Made logo and almost illegible lower case print?

It says, “Made in Australia from less than 10% Australian ingredients” :angry:

OK, they aren’t telling lies and they are not hiding the contents. However, what is clear is that there is a deliberate attempt to deceive and particularly an attempt to deceive the elderly who are more likely to have poor eyesight. Most people would see Made in Australia on the front label and think, that’s good enough for me and take it. Sanitarium are not alone in this but that does not make it right. For this reason I would nominate this product for a shonky award but I’m aware most products on supermarket shelves are probably in the same boat.

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At least Bega has nothing deceptive on their website or their labels.

https://begapeanutbutter.com.au/our-range/

I watched a presentation on ABC Landline some time ago in which Bega stated that they have to use imported peanuts as their is not enough Aussie product available after many farmers stopped growing peanuts

They said that they were farming their own peanuts and also actively encouraging other farmers to produce them in the hope they could produce 100% Aussie product.

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The relevant labelling regulations are

Scroll down and you will find the relevant definitions. There is nothing shonky or misleading about following regulations, even when they might not be the best.

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There is often confusion over the terms…

  • made in Australia; and
  • product of Australia.

Made means it is processed in some way in Australia using ingredients from anywhere, where product means its content are Australian origin…for foods, product means it comes from Australian farms.

Years ago I used to have arguments with family members who shopped at Aldi as they thought Aldi has more Australian products than the other supermarkets (at the time Choice found less than 15% Australian ingredients or content while other supermarkets were in the high thirty/low percentages) while most of their items showing the 'made in Australia triangle logo. Family members thought that made in Australia equals product of Australia. Some supermarkets and manufacturers exploited this confusion for their own benefit.

Fortunately, the new labelling requirements, which you have found, removes any doubt if one examines the label carefully. While the peanut butter in question is made in Australia, it has less than 10% Australian sourced or grown ingredients. Looking at the label, it is likely to be 4% or less and would comprise the vegetable oil and/or stabiliser.

If you want a 100% Australian peanut butter product, they are hard to come by. Choice looked into peanut butter in the past…

Adding to the confusion is whether a manufacturer is Australian or foreign owned. Australian owned, like made in Australia, also doesn’t mean product of Australia.

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One of the satay sauce brands, Ayam or Yeo’s, used to state on the labels that it was made in Asia with 100% Australian peanuts.

I could not find it on product images online so something must have changed.

image

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You misunderstand my point. I’m not for one moment suggesting they are doing anything illegal, however, you must agree, the advertising is deceptive and deliberately so. Why don’t they say it’s largely an imported product in letters just as large as MADE IN AUSTRALIA? I’ll tell you why, they really don’t want you know. That’s deception by definition. All advertisers do it. It might be legal but that doesn’t make it right. The law is an ass.

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I’m not arguing over the Made in Australia tag. I fully accept that the peanut butter in made in Australia albeit from mostly imported peanut. My point is the the attempt to deceive by hiding the imported product bit in extremely small print.

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From the definition of ‘Made in Australia’, it is Made in Australia (albeit from mostly Imported ingredients). It is thus neither misleading nor deception despite your disagreement with the definitions.

They are using the approved symbol.

That is for another topic noting laws are made by the representatives ‘we’ elect.

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While the text ‘using imported ingredients’ on the label doesn’t stand out as it is white writing on a blue background, the label also clearly shows Australian content in the text adjacent to the Australia Made Logo image. In this case, it clearly states the amount of Australian product in the peanut butter, that being less than 10% Australian ingredients.

One can easily determine that over 90% of the contents of the jar of peanut butter are foreign products.

The new labelling in the link is @PhilT post above is to provide consumers with more clarity over the source of origin of the product available for purchase. While it is not the largest feature on the label, most food products are now required to have such labelling. When purchasing foods, this is one of the first aspects of the label we look at, along with nutritional panel (esp. salt, sugar and fats), useby/best before dates and price to assist with making a purchase decision.

Sanitarium isn’t required to add the wording ‘using imported ingredients’ on the label, but have done so as a business decision of their own. This is above and beyond the minimum requirements required under Australian labelling country of origin labelling. Sanitarium doing such possibly better informs consumers than relying solely on the mandated country of origin labelling.

However, with the mandatory country of original label, I suspect that some businesses use the minimum allowable size when displaying it on their packaging. This might be done for a number of reasons, and may not be in the interest of consumers which may have trouble reading smaller print sizes.

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I saw the Sanitarium jars at Woolies the other day and went straight for the label showing the 10% Australian content. Given what Bega said about lack of peanut supply in Australia, at least Sanitarium proudly MAKES their peanut butter in Australia and doesn’t sell fully imported product.

I do get a bit tired of people purporting to speak on behalf of “elderly people” about product labelling. They are not stupid; they can read. And if they don’t notice the source of the ingredients, does it really matter?

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Bega MAKES it’s Peanut Paste (butter) in Melbourne, if there is any confusion caused by the previous comment.


https://begapeanutbutter.com.au/about-us

Both Bega and Sanitarium are Australian Companies, although sanitarium is a registered ‘not for profit’, organisation.
https://www.sanitarium.com.au/about/sanitarium-story/profits-for-purpose

Curiosity is that the Bega pack shot from our fridge and the Woolies on line pack shots have different wording. Woolies says ‘from at least 10%’ Australian ingredients.

I’m only a slightly older Australian. I don’t think Sanitarium or Bega come out of this smelling of fresh peanuts. Do I have a preferred paste? Neither as the stuff tends to stick to my mouth and reminds me of eating glue. I prefer fresh, skins and all. There’s plenty of choice.

It’s surprising Australia being a power house growing vast quantities of cotton, almond, cane, carrots, chick peas, canola etc can’t grow enough simple legume to keep up peanut supply! One should wonder - it’s a water issue?

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As a company owned by a religious order it is indeed a ‘charitable tax exempt company’ that professes to do much good work. Yet in spite of their claims they are and are allowed to be opaque in detail. (table is a hotlink to the ACNC)

image

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Sanitarium, seem to think this is Ok indicating on their home page I linked in my prior post.

In 2008 the Charities and Not-for-profit Commission undertook an in-depth review of the charity sector and concluded that Sanitarium does not gain a preferential position within the food industry because of its charitable taxation status.

There’s an assumption that what was OK in 2008 is still OK. Whether the CNC is the best expert to assess the impact of the special status on the competitive market place, others might expect that’s the role of the ACCC to determine?

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The competitive or anticompetitive nature is a separate topic to what they use their charitable dollars for. Is it all ‘healthy food distribution’ or is some ‘religious evangelising or education’ or as some non-profits go, ‘top pay for executives’? A non-profit cannot distribute dividends/profits. Other than that it can be open slather.

Alas, we have wandered off topic. If this track warrants ongoing discussion perhaps make a new topic.

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That is a questionable statement by Sanitarium, given the below information from the ACNC website.

“The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the national regulator of charities. The ACNC was established in December 2012 to achieve the following objects; …”

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I was hoping to contribute to the conversation until it turned into a Sanitarium bashing exercise (and no, I’m not an SDA).

I am constantly irritated about labelling laws as they relate to Australian content. There should be a circle on the front divided into 3. Each third should represent Australian Owned, Australian sourced product, and Australian manufacturing transformation process. Then each third could be colour coded (red, yellow, green perhaps?) to show you at a glance what percentage there is for each measure. E.g. a fully green circle is 100% Australian Owned, manufactured in Oz from and Australian-sourced food.

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There have been public submission requests about labelling that CHOICE have linked to in the past. I encourage you to reach out to the ACCC about your ideas and concerns. While I can find nothing currently involving changes, that you contact them may add to any call for change.

There have been some topics on this site that have revolved around label laws

New Product of Australia labelling

And a survey that was undertaken in late 2020 but you can still supply your responses

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It’s advertising. That’s what advertising does. Advertising openly attempts to persuade. The bounds to what’s reasonable persuasive techniques have long since been broken. We have sat back and allowed it to happen to the point that we are bombarded with advertising that contain blatant lies and we simply dismiss it as reader beware. Who gets caught? The disadvantaged of the community as usual and all we can say is that it’s in accordance with the rules. Is this what Choice is about? It wasn’t when I first joined many years ago.

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The print is hidden at the bottom of the back label in the smallest print on the jar. I’m 72 and struggle to read that print. “MADE IN AUSTRALIA” is in 3mm high upper case on the front, “…less that 10% Australian…” is written in 1mm high lower case on the back.

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We understand this is an emotive subject, a friendly reminder to keep the discussion on the idea rather than on individuals.

We’ve heard a lot from people on the issue, and in short CHOICE has called for improvements to the labelling system to avoid people being misled and to improve clarity around the origin of ingredients. You can read more about our position in the article below.

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