When people want to buy products from a specific place, to support local businesses or to experience a culinary tradition from a certain part of the world, they look at labels. But are the origin claims on goods bound by any particular laws, and can customers trust them? The answers to these questions differ between different categories of items and regions of origin, creating a complex patchwork. Every company will have to find out on its own whether it is bound to label its products' origins, and whether it's wise to do so when optional.
Do States' Programs Work?
The USA Today Network recently delved into the issue of local branding initiatives tied to states. The requirements to join a state-government-sanctioned local label program differ wildly across the country. Some have requirements about amounts of ingredients sourced from the named state, others don't operate any verifying processes to determine whether applicants are truly local. Four states don't have local labeling systems at all.
The focus of most of these initiatives is food and beverage labeling, as people often want to eat local. USA Today discovered that 18 states do allow items that aren't foods to become part of their listings. With inconsistent enforcement levels and requirements around the country, it's unclear what connection customers will have to a particular state's system.
EU Rolls Out Optional Rules
In a parallel to the hodgepodge of regulations in place across the U.S., the European Union is trying to get control of its member countries' inconsistent rules about national origin labeling. Politico reported that the current plans involve voluntary regulations about origin labeling. When companies choose to say where their items come from, they'll have to be accurate. If they don't put flags or other markers on packages, however, the regulations won't take hold.
Companies that make food in the EU have expressed worry about rules that would limit the way they can market their goods. They say people may wrongly lose trust in brands that source their ingredients from overseas. EU leaders have decided to forge ahead with voluntary rules because some countries in the union already have mandatory disclosure statutes on the book. Italy, for instance, requires disclosure of where pasta, rice and tomato goods come from.
Getting the Right Labels
When companies get approved to put a local-origin seal on their products, it's time for a new label design. Printing the labels in-house could give the brand control and flexibility about how many they produce. Find out more on Argon's U.S. store or Canadian site.