Federal Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, has slammed a new consumer program quickly spreading throughout Europe designed to encourage shoppers to buy according to how far the product has travelled to the sale point in the interest of the environment.
Known as "Green Miles" of "Food Miles", Mr Burke told delegates at this year's ABARE Outlook conference that the program was a consumer-driven barrier to trade, misleading, and amounted to nothing more than "protectionism".
"I have to express upfront my deep concern about the food miles campaign in Europe," Mr Burke said.
"This is a campaign pretending to provide consumers with information, as though the key issue in carbon emissions and carbon emissions is how far the product has travelled.
"We all know that transport costs are a very small portion in terms of greenhouse emissions and a very small portion of the total chain value in greenhouse emissions and climate change.
"Yet to have a campaign starting to get some legs on the other side of the world which can mislead consumers to believe that the distance travelled is the be all and end all, is a campaign that is nothing more than protectionism and is a campaign deliberately designed to deceive."
Mr Burke said every opportunity must be used to can "make those messages loud and clear" so consumers are not conned.
He said the campaign is designed so shoppers think they are being environmentally friendly when they're actually being given the wrong indicators.
SOURCE: Extract from ABARE Outlook report, to be published in Rural Press agricultural weeklies, March 6