Businesses are at risk of fines of more than $1 million if they don't comply with new country of origin labelling laws.
The labelling laws are due to come into force from 1 July next year, requiring food manufacturers and importers to clearly identify where products are produced, grown, made, or packed.
Design execution services company Task by Kirk has been working with large and small businesses to prepare them for the change, but warns many businesses are unlikely to meet the deadline to comply with the new Australian Consumer Law act.
“I would estimate that only half the required changes across product brands have been completed or are in the process of being completed,” Task by Kirk general manager John Kapiniaris said.
“It’s the small- to medium-sized businesses that are falling behind because they either don’t have the resources available or don’t have a proper understanding of the requirements under the new laws.
“Any recall or disposal of non-compliant goods may run from the thousands to the millions of dollars, so it’s important to get it right."
Task by Kirk has been working with major manufacturers such as Simplot, Riviana, and Cerebos to re-label products, and is preparing for a flood of businesses rushing to comply with the new laws as the deadline approaches.
"The changes aren’t really that complex, and we have been able to step businesses through the necessary changes," Kapiniaris said.
Simplot Australia creative services manager Paul Fenech said the new country of origin labelling laws presented a huge undertaking for manufacturers and importers.
"If companies haven’t started now and they have hundreds of products, they are really going to struggle,” he said.
From next July, food made, grown, or produced in Australia will feature the image of a kangaroo in a triangle and a bar chart that shows the proportion of Australian ingredients.
Corporations who fail to comply with the Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard 2016 face penalties of up to $1.1 million, while individuals can be fined up to $220,000.