By Andy Young

The Independent Liquor Group (ILG) has been fined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over its "Aussie Beer," while accepting the fine, ILG has called for an even playing field regarding labelling.

The ACCC fined ILG $10,200 following the issue of an infringement notice over its "Aussie Beer" product. 

In a statement the ACCC said that "by its packaging and labelling, ILG represented that its 'Aussie Beer' product was a product made in Australia when in fact the product was made in China."

ILG's CEO Allen De Costa told TheShout, that the company had no intention to mislead the public, and that he thought the labelling made it clear to consumers what the product was.

"ILG had no intention to mislead the public and the product was deleted before the ACCC action due to poor sales performance," De Costa said. "ILG accepts the ACCC notice and fine."

He added: "Ninety five per cent of the beer sold in Australia is made in Australia by foreign owned companies. ILG wished to produce a beer owned by an Australian but made overseas to get costs down.

"In many cases international beers are made in Australia with Australian ingredients but the labelling makes you believe they are imported beers

"Aussie Beer clearly stated it was made in China from Australian malt but using Chinese spring waters."

De Costa went to question other alcohol labelling, calling for consistency across the industry.

"Also in the wine industry that 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc you are drinking may contain 15 per cent 2013 vintage Sauvy plus another 15 per cent locally made Chardonnay or similar white grape and is then bottled in South Australia. That’s 30 per cent of a product's ingredients that are not of what the label states. 

"There certainly should be an even playing field regarding labelling."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Join the Conversation


  1. Highlighting home-grown food


    23 Mar, 2015 04:00 AM

    Trying to support local ownership is just as important as buying local product for many consumers

    Brett Watson and his ‘Buy Australian’ logo.

    AUSTRALIAN shoppers are fed up with confusing food labels and want honest and clearer country of origin descriptions on their groceries, but that goal may not be as simple as it sounds.

    While the federal government has promised to soon release a better labelling code to clearly identify differences between imports and products grown or made in Australia, it’s unlikely to tell the full story, according to “buy Australian” advocate and advertising promoter Brett Watson.

    Mr Watson believed the government favoured sticking with the widely-recognised “Australian made” gold kangaroo icon on a green triangle as the basis for identifying local product.

    However, because many foods or other goods used imported ingredients, the logo was likely to be modified to emphasise local content with a barometer bar underneath showing varying degrees of gold colouring to indicate how much content was sourced locally.

    But that would still only tell half the story, said northern NSW-based Mr Watson, who began promoting his own version of the “buy Australian” message in 1997, re-launching it in 2012.

    He noted that even if a food product was largely grown in Australia it could still be part-processed overseas, and consumers received no clear indication of whether the manufacturer was a local or overseas-owned business.

    So much of Australia’s processed food or other manufactured goods were now sourced or part-produced offshore it was almost impossible to assume a mainstream supermarket line was 100 per cent Australian product, or the company making it was 100pc Australian.

    The need for simple “fair dinkum” food labelling has been a political catch-cry issue for years, but the government has revved up its interest in clearing up the confusion since contaminated fruit from China was recently detected in what most shoppers thought was an Australian frozen food product.

    “Trying to support local ownership is just as important as buying local product for many consumers,” said Lismore-based Mr Watson, who also has a farm at Tenterfield.

    “But foreign companies love the Australian made kangaroo logo because it doesn’t reveal very much at all, and they still reap the benefit,” he said.

    To qualify to carry the current Australian made logo he said only 51pc of a product’s the final production process needed to be done in Australia.

    (Although at least half of production costs must be attributed to local materials and/or production processes.)

    Products carrying the patriotic green and gold Australian made logo could actually have 100pc foreign-grown content and be 100pc packed overseas, and be produced by a 100pc foreign owned brand name.

    “It’s turned around and bitten us on the bum,” he said.

    Even the popular Ausbuy organisation, which champions the need for Australian-owned businesses in our economy, allowed significant flexibility on foreign ownership.

    While its Ausbuy logo identified products as “Australian made, owned or grown” it only required 51pc minimum local ownership and 51pc of the product to be processed locally.

    Mr Watson highlighted the frustration of many small businesses, noting how a NSW North Coast Christmas pudding maker using local fruit and other ingredients qualified to use an Australian-made logo.

    But so, too, did a rival business which shaved its production margins by sourcing almost half its ingredients overseas, effectively giving it an unfair cost and marketing advantage.

    “If other Australian made and owned logos already find it complicated to correctly provide customers with sufficient detail to make an informed choice, I can’t see any new government decision on labelling being much clearer,” Mr Watson said.

    His answer to the problem has been the “Buy Australian” logo which has percentages for four categories – Australian content, company ownership, made and packed.

    He believed the best way to highlight truly Australian product was to get small businesses shaming the bigger food processors by specifically highlighting the information current labels tended to shy away from.

    The nature of their small-scale manufacturing operations meant small businesses tended to source product locally and were therefore in a good position to highlight their home-grown credentials.

    If promoted properly, with help from the facts in the buy Australian label, they could create a marketing advantage which larger companies may feel obliged to match.

    Federal Cabinet is expected to be reviewing new country of origin labelling proposals from the department of agriculture and trade within a fortnight, with new label laws likely to be announced early next month.




    single page

    Andrew Marshall

    is the national agribusiness writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media


  2. Had they used the Buy Australian Logo they could have clearly declared their Australian Ownership and the foreign content and manufacture of the beer.
    One logo does it all…..the buy Australian Logo. Showing Australians what is Australian since 2012.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *