Country of Origin Labelling

Country of Origin Labelling continues to be a topic for debate in many countries since I first wrote this article in 2007 from a New Zealand perspective.

CPR is the commonly used abbreviation for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, an emergency medical procedure for heart attack victims. CPR is performed in hospitals, or in the community by laypersons or by emergency response professionals.

I have decided to borrow the term CPR for the purposes of this article.  Only in this case CPR stands for Concern, Perception and Reality.

Country of Origin labeling is one of the hot topics that have emerged in the fresh produce industry during 2007 and are likely to stay on the forefront of debate in 2008. Consumers are far more inquisitive today than they were a generation ago and, of course, they – or should I say we – have every right to know where the products on offer in a supermarket come from.

The Internet has brought the world into most suburban households at the touch of a couple of keyboard buttons and anyone with an opinion on any topic under the sun is busy blogging away, sharing his or her views, whether the rest of us like it or not.  Little wonder than that our interest in just about anything has increased drastically, thus increasing our vulnerability to the machinations of ‘special interest groups’ exponentially.

And boy, have special interest groups been having a field day with the origin debate.  This whole topic actually looks fairly innocent until once starts breaking ‘origin’ down into the various components that contribute to the subject matter.  All these components are clustered around one driver; this driver being concern. 

The interesting thing about concern is that it is not necessarily reality based.  Concern arises when we believe we have grounds for it.  These grounds may well be arising from how we perceive things rather how they actually are but it does not matter.  Perception is  nine tenth of reality, isn’t it?  So, there.

The concerns that underpin the country of origin labelling debate relate to wellness and the environment, seasonality and cost, the emergence of functional food and taste, as well localised economy issues.Every one of these topics, taken on its own, is highly charged from an emotional perspective.  Combined they are lethal.

What are the issues then from a horticultural/agribusiness perspective?

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