Consumers and cheats get caught in Australian Made web
The Australian Made logo has been appearing on Aussie made and grown products since 1986, but between unscrupulous companies and confused consumers, the buy Australian message remains a work in progress.
Despite highly visible marketing initiatives, and ongoing prosecution of companies looking to exploit the Australian Made trademark, studies show that Australian consumers are still baffled by Australia’s current labelling laws.
The famous green triangle and golden kangaroo logo is instantly recognisable to most consumers, and appears on more than 10,000 products sold both in Australia and overseas.
Research shows it is recognised by 94 per cent of shoppers and trusted by 85 per cent over any other country of origin identifier like flags, maps and pictures of animals.
The Australian Made logo can also be used with the words "Product of Australia" - meaning nearly all ingredients and processes are Australian—and "Australian Grown" - wholly grown in Australia.
New products are registered every day, and as such the logo is ever more visible, but still consumers are unsure about exactly what the presence of the logo means for the products they are buying.
Australian Made Chief Executive Ian Harrison says the logo is ultimately a certification trademark which provides shoppers with a recognisable and trustworthy solution to the maze of different country of origin labels and criteria products must meet.
"When you see the Australian Made logo with the words 'Australian Made' written underneath it, it means the product has actually been made here and 50 per cent or more of the cost of making it has occurred here too," Mr Harrison said.
"It doesn’t mean the product has just been assembled here or packaged here."
Or at least that is what it should mean, so long as the fly-by-night traders who seek to exploit the logo don’t get their way.
In some respects it is perhaps the best evidence that the Australian Made logo is hitting the mark with consumers that dishonest companies would seek to benefit from its use on their products. After all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Just two months ago the Federal Court fined online ugg-boot trader Marksun Australia $430,000 for engaging in false and misleading conduct – including $100,000 for unauthorised use of the Australian Made logo.
This was after action was taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) when Marksun falsely claimed its ugg boots were made in Australia, when in fact they were made in China.
Harrison applauded the penalties imposed on Marksun.
"Justice Gilmour’s decision is a win for shoppers and the more than 1700 businesses registered to use the logo," he said.
"The Australian Made logo is in fact a certification trademark which means businesses must follow strict rules when using it.
"More importantly, shoppers have the right to know where the products they buy come from.
"Marksun showed complete disregard for both these points and as a result must face the consequences of the law."
Notwithstanding the ongoing prosecution and hefty fines for companies who misuse the logo, Harrison said there were good reasons why the community was concerned about Australia’s labelling laws.
"The Federal Government needs to show leadership and make these laws tighter, clearer and more consistent," he said.
"We have amended our rules to exclude some processes from the definition, so when you see the Australian Made logo on products you can be confident they meet the strict rules we have in place and have been made in Australia."
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