AFTA welcomes Industry Minister’s decision to reject Country of Origin Labelling for flowers

25 February 2022

The Australian Flower Traders Association welcomes the decision by the federal Industry Minister that an evaluation Australia’s Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) regulations for food found that the system was well implemented, effective and was meeting its objectives and would not be expanded to include cut flowers and foliage.

AFTA undertook a positive and respectful engagement program on behalf of the entire flower industry when it was proposed that cut flowers and foliage should be included under CoOL.

AFTA founding member, Craig Musson, said that the industry did not need another layer of mandatory regulation.

“Our strong message to the government was about the broader impact on the industry, not just for growers and importers and exporters, but particularly for florists which are small businesses, owned and operated by one or two people. The legal burden of identifying imported flowers in mixed arrangements would have fallen to them,” Mr Musson said.

“CoOL would have imposed additional costs of labelling and identification on local growers who could afford it the least. The review also supported our contention that a mandatory scheme would impose excessive costs on the many smaller participants in the industry.”

Of Australia’s 600 flower growers, a third earn less than $50,000 a year. Large native flower growers would have been required to label their product even though native flowers are prohibited from being imported.

“The push by a small segment of the Australian flower industry for mandatory country of origin labelling on imported cut flowers and foliage was not supported by the evaluation,” Mr Musson said.

While the review also noted there was no strong consumer demand for flowers to be included in the CoOL scheme. This is supported by a consumer survey conducted as part of CoOL evaluation, finding only one per cent of participants listed flowers among the non-food products that should be included in the scheme.

“AFTA advocated for the entire industry, voicing its concern that the costs associated with CoOL would impose significant financial and operational hardship on florists and wholesalers, who would need to implement the range of labelling changes that CoOL would require,” Mr Musson said.

“Our members include both domestic flower growers, cut flower importers, exporters, and retailers, and we fully support the Australian Government’s biosecurity system and the way it facilitates exporting and importing cut flowers and foliage.

“The Australian Government sets the rules based on scientific advice for importers and exporters to obey. The comprehensive biosecurity measures adopted by successive federal governments and the stringent measures taken by industry to adhere to them demonstrates our commitment to protect Australia’s biosecurity.

“As an industry, we need to encourage and foster the growth and financial health of our local growers, encourage new farms to thrive, and create the new generation of growers and florists.

“We must also be supportive of the market and florists in fulfilling both the quality and quantity of flowers that are demanded by consumers.

“Without both a strong local production industry and an ability to import flowers, we would be a vastly smaller industry and we would offer consumers significantly fewer floral varieties than we do today.”

AFTA noted the Minister’s ongoing commitment to monitor imported cut flowers for compliance with biosecurity measures which would be strengthened where required.

See Ministerial Statement

Read AFTA’s position on Country of Origin Labelling

Read the reports