28/05/2008 - 22:00

Helping promote ethical buying

28/05/2008 - 22:00


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Helping promote ethical buying

The push for greater transparency in the labelling of supermarket products has been given a double boost, with the state government's launch of the 'Buy West, Eat Best' program last week following the release of an ethical food guide in April.

It took Natalija Brunovs and Anita Lumbus a year of research to put together The Good Grocery Guide, which came out last month. The not-for-profit initiative provides a who's who of ethical producers supplying Perth's supermarkets.

From baby food through to toothpaste, categories in the guide include WA owned and made, packaging covenant, organic, GE free and fairtrade products.

Ms Brunovs said the guide aimed to provide consumers with the tools to make educated choices while grocery shopping.

"We have done all this research for people in supermarkets. All the information allows you to start thinking how companies are ethical and how you can support them or not," she said.

WA Food Industry Association chairman David Lock said anything that helped consumers identify where products came from was an interesting initiative.

"Consumers struggle to identify, and there are confusions created by the labelling," he said.

Mr Lock said the Buy West, Eat Best program targeted similar clarity issues.

According to Mr Locke, 80 per cent of the food and beverages consumed in WA is imported.

"For WA producers to compete against imported products, they have to differentiate on another level than price," he said.

Ms Brunovs said while her research had found a significant number of ethically produced goods in WA, it remained difficult for those producers to get space on the supermarket shelves.

Most ethical producers also have to sell their products rapidly as they generally have a shorter shelf-life than other products.

"It is a struggle to try to be good and you don't have much margin for error between how much you produce and how much is distributed," Ms Brunovs said.


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