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What is the difference between "Made in..." and "Product of..."? Both are often seen on product labeling; my understanding is that "Made in" is not used for agricultural goods while "Product of" is?

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I can only speak from a limited perspective, but in Australia there is a very significant difference between 'Made in ..' and 'Product of ..' worth millions of dollars annually. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Country of Origin Code of Practice outlines the differences in detail. They cover agricultural and manufactured goods equally. In summary:

  • General country of origin claims cover phrases such as 'Made in Australia', 'Australian Made', 'Manufactured in Australia', 'Built in Australia' etc. This claim essentially means that the majority of costs of manufacturing/producing the product occurred in the country.

  • 'Product of Australia' is a premium claim about a good's origin. The requirements to defend this claim are far more stringent. It signifies that the country of origin was the source of all significant components on the product and essentially all processes involved in the manufacture/production of the product occurred in that country.

Contraventions of the consumer protection provisions (claiming country origins incorrectly) are dealt with by civil and criminal law codes. The penalties are extremely heavy.

The product labelling codes of practice apply equally to any product sold in Australia, regardless of country of origin or type of good. Blenders, kangaroo pelts, orange juice and washing machines are all covered by the same code of practice. For any product sold in Australia, products wanting to claim 'Product of Portugal' or 'Made in USA' or 'Manufactured in China' or 'Product of Canada' or 'Produced in Australia' must conform to the same rigorous codes.

I'm certainly no expert in this field, but it couldn't be clearer that there is a very distinct (and legally enforceable) difference between 'Made in ..' and 'Product of ..' for any product sold in Australia. I'd be flabbergasted to discover other WTO countries didn't have similar product labelling codes of practice.

Perhaps the reason some people believe 'Made in ..' and 'Product of ..' labelling has something to do with agricultural goods and manufactured goods may have something to do with the number of components and cost of processes involved in the final product. As the number of components in a product increases, the difficulty in controlling the country of origin for these components increases, and the ability to demonstrate conditions required by the 'Product of ..' test decreases. Orange juice, apples, kangaroo pelts etc. may only have a dozen or so components, with the major of costs associated with the raw materials and localised processing; much easier to control and satisfy 'Product of ..' requirements. Blenders, TVs and washing machines have literally hundreds of components: metal, plastic, ceramic, glass, rubber, electrical wiring, capacitors, circuit boards, switches etc., with the costs of local processing (assembly) not being as significant a factor on the final manufacturing costs. The chances of being able to source the vast majority of components from the same country of origin is far more difficult; therefore unlikely to satisfy 'Product of ..' requirements, but may possibly satisfy 'Made in ..' requirements.

As a digression, product labelling in Australia has become far more stringently controlled in the last decade or so, pushed mostly by a 'buy local' and nutrition-savvy consumer market. If a product is sold as 'Orange Juice', the contents must contain orange juice, and the ingredients panel must show what proportion of the contents is actually orange juice (orange peel, for instance, doesn't qualify as juice). It was amazing to see how many products changed to 'Orange Flavoured Drink' almost overnight. Also astonishing is to see that some tins of tomatoes actually contain only about 40% tomato. Very expensive water!

  • Could "product of Australia" cover goods that were made using a kangaroo pelt or leather (if such a thing exists) or Australian wool? What if the components were mechanical, a blender for example. Thank you. – Mari-Lou A Nov 17 '13 at 12:17
  • @Mari-LouA - Absolutely no difference, regardless of product type or country of origin, as elaborated above. Kangaroos pelts do exist, and are found in many tourist shops. Kangaroo meat is sold in many supermarkets, butchers and restaurants. Very lean and tasty. – long Nov 17 '13 at 22:05
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I always thought that "Product of..." would relate to a foodstuff or perishable good, something that was grown (i.e. produce of), for example:

Dried apricots product of Australia

And "Made in..." would relate to something that was actually assembled:

Bicycle made in China

Hope this helps

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