Supermarket shoppers beware

Supermarkets claim that it is necessary to source products from overseas to cut costs.

Supermarket products from overseas

This week on our Meeting Place Seggie has expressed surprise at buying a bag of frozen vegetables only to discover afterwards that not all ingredients have been grown in Australia. Surely it can’t be cheaper to import vegetables than to pay Australian farmers a fair price?

Comment - Are we being duped?

I like to think that I’m a savvy shopper, understanding the damage buying overseas products can do to framers and food producers in this country. But as with most people, sometimes I’m in too much of a rush to read the fine print on each and every piece of packaging. On occasion I am guilty of assuming that if I buy a shop brand product from an Australian retailer, then I am buying an Australian product. How wrong can I be?

Many fresh products such as fruit, vegetables and meat are clearly marked with their country of origin, but what about the processed foods such as bread, canned goods and of course, frozen vegetables? Where does the flour come from which is used in the bread? What is the origin of the ingredients in canned beans? And are all frozen vegetables grown and frozen locally? Who would know, unless you spend hours reading the small print and even then, I’m not sure you’d be any clearer.

Supermarkets claim that it is necessary to source products from overseas to keep down costs and provide the variety required to please the customers. With food prices on the increase, balancing a budget for the average household is of utmost importance. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a clear understanding of where goods came from, so you could make an informed choice on how you spend your hard earned cash?

Do you know of any products which are the thought to be Australian, but they actually originate overseas? Would you pay more for Australian produce? Can you recommend any products which are 100 per cent Australian?

Are supermarkets pulling the wool over consumers’ eyes?


    To make a comment, please register or login
    20th Jul 2012
    Welcome Debbie to the globalization of everything : I am a recent world traveler and virtually every supermarket carries the same standard fresh produce - capsicums, oranges etc unless there is still a strong home grown market such as apples in Oz. Therefore it 'pays' to shop in your local greengrocer and not the supermarkets for fresh produce. As for manufactured goods - Dick Smith's Oz vegemite is 100% Oz but as much as or even dearer than imported. Nobody pays more for the Oz product unless they have money to burn or idealistic principals.
    20th Jul 2012
    Drakes Supermarkets mostly stock only SA produce where possible and tropical fruit from interstate. Most Supermarkets will not stock NZ Apples at all. Most canned foods are labelled with the origin of the food contained. I know our apples used to be exported to England from the Adelaide Hills in SA (we know an ex-orchardist) but I don't know if that is still the case. Unfortunately a NZ company took Heinz over. That is why some of our food - especially frozen now comes from NZ. The only other I intentionally buy from O/S is rice because the one I have to eat for medical reasons is not produced in Aust. Some companies owned by USA multi-nationals still manufacture food in Aust. Our Vegemite is still made in Australia. USA makes its own. My niece was a "nanny" over there for 12 months and took some there in tubes as she thought she wouldn't be able to get it over there. The children she cared for loved it too so her supply didn't last long. She managed to find some in the supermarkets over there and apparently they put less salt in theirs. Maybe we should get their recipe to use here. Dick Smith's Cheese is/was manufactured in Bega, NSW...but it is a lot dearer than Bega Brand. Most people simply cannot afford to buy brands such as his that are so much more expensive. The same applies to his biscuits. Some of the generic brand groceries are also manufactured in Aust. When I was working for company involved in storage and supplying individually owned supermarkets I knew who some of them were...but that was about 3 years ago.
    20th Jul 2012
    No one needs to be concerned about products from New Zealand. Certainly fruit and vegetables grown in Australia and New Zealand, whether fresh or frozen, are not using deleterious fertilizer or sprays. It's China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India etc. that concern me, as there is no quality control. Some imported frozen vegetables from China have been found to be infected with e.coli, this because human excrement is often used to fertilize crops. Current Affair brought this to viewers attention about 2-3 years ago.
    20th Jul 2012
    Not all New Zealand frozen vegetables are from New Zealand ( as reported at the end of last year. The packaging on some well-known brands contains the wording "Packed in New Zealand from local and imported product". Coles carry a range of Australian frozen vegetables which are clearly labelled but otherwise it is a matter of reading the fine print.
    20th Jul 2012
    "Nobody pays more for the Oz product unless they have money to burn or idealistic principals."
    Aquatrek. Unfortunately that is general attitude.
    Remember corner stores few people used but complained bitterly when they closed.
    Look forward and one day we will grow/produce little to nothing in this country.
    Suggest Britain is even worse off than we are.
    20th Jul 2012
    I would pay more ONLY if I know it would be going to the farmer - not the supermarket
    21st Jul 2012
    I just despair about what is happening to our farmers in Australia. Only this week it was announced we will be importing potatoes (of all things) from NZ. Again this product has a disease which if it gets through will devastate the industry here in South Australia and the rest of Australia. Why we have to import any fruit and vegetable is beyond me.
    I buy organic fruit and vegetable and other "dry" products from a certified supplier.
    21st Jul 2012
    Aquatrek is right. We shop from a green grocer for our fresh fruit and veg. He is marginally cheaper than Woolies and is only about 50 mtrs away from Woolies. Problem for him is he operates from a Woolies owned centre and has to pay rent to Woolies. Pity he wasn't accross the road. Also for halona, many years ago a friend of ours owned a fish and chip shop. He was telling us about how he operated. He bought his chips ready cut and frozen and used in excess of 50 kg. a day. Grown, processed and imported from Spain.

    21st Jul 2012
    Fresh Cherries imported from USA 2/3 of the price of our Oz grown ones on sale in Woolies,a lot were obviously not going to sell because people were just not buying especially with Farmers markets offering fresher home grown ones. Farmers Markets are very popular in Wa for fresh home grown produce.
    21st Jul 2012
    Margaret, sorry I for one will not buy products from N.Z. - haven't since the programme aired. I was disgusted to think they were buying in rubbish from China and forwarding it on to us by stealth!! I always shop at the local greengrocer, butcher, fish shop, cake shop etc. and only buy from the supermarket the few products I need (butter, spices etc. and on very rare occasions, frozen peas (only the baby peas from Tasmania, clearly marked- all Australian). With N.Z. it's a matter of lack of trust now - who has time to read the labels on every product! I simply can't believe the amount of items coming in from N.Z. can actually be manufactured by them. Now, back to my veggie garden!!!
    24th Jul 2012
    Off target here, but I bought a lounge suite 2 x 2 seater. I bought it at a store that states "If you're not buying Australian, Why Not?" that'll give you a clue.
    Sometime later I was hoovering and needed a hand to lift them (heavy) to get right under to hoover the bottom, and what did I see....yep a large tag Made in China!!!
    Never been back to that store and never will.
    3rd Oct 2012
    Why don't supermarkets display little flags from the country of origin that these goods come from. I thought some goods were to have green and gold labels to show they were Australian grown and produced. If the meat departments in Coles and Woolworths can display a Halal only meat section,why can't they do the same for Aussie goods.?

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles