Government vs consumer in packaging laws review

There have been industry requests to cut the red tape around packaging laws.

The government is in favour of principles-based approach for product packaging in response to industry calls to review measurement labelling laws.

The Australian government was responding to calls to address industry requests to cut red tape with options to change measurement marking placement rules.

At present, a products exact weight and/or volume must appear on the front of the packet under the national trade measurements regulations (NTMR) 2009 Part 4.

If the industry proposal is successful, weight and volume markings could be moved from the front of packaging making it difficult for consumers to compare products and value for money.

The current proposal to review the NTMR outlines three possible options: leave regulations as they are; clarify the regulations; implement a principles-based approach.

The government is in favour of the third option, which, if implemented will see the removal of regulations controlling size, orientation, and position of the measurement mark.

In response to this proposal, consumer group Choice has launched a campaign seeking government protection for shoppers and their ability to compare products, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said inconsistent sizing across products causes confusion for consumers.

Speaking specifically about biscuits Mr Godfrey said: “Biscuit lovers might be shocked to learn that if they buy Arnott’s Chewy Caramel Tim Tams, instead of the Tim Tam Originals, they’ll end up with 25 grams less, or nine biscuits instead of 11.”

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy said the review was prompted by businesses who found the current regulations too prescriptive.

“Businesses have told us that the current regulations are too prescriptive and need to be reviewed, and that’s what we are doing,” he said.

“By exploring ways to make it easier for business to operate, while maintaining the checks and balances that the public expect from government, we can start to make a real difference.

“We also know that consumers want safeguards in place to ensure they are getting value for money. This review is a detailed, transparent process to plot the best path forward for both industry and consumers.”

A Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science spokesman said if the principles-based approach is adopted, the most obvious change would be the removal of the front of packaging requirement.

An Arnotts spokesperson said other Tim Tam flavours have always contained only nine biscuits.

“As well as displaying the gram size on the front of packets, we also display the number of biscuits. Arnott’s has no plans to change this in the future,” she said.

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