by Diminique Wiehahn and Camille Bianchi

Woolworths is the first Australian supermarket to change its labeling of mixed-origin fresh produce and consumer experts say it will not be long before the other big chains follow suite.

The “local and imported produce” sign will no longer appear in Woolworths’ fresh food aisle.

Instead, labels will list where all the country’s fresh produce comes from.

Woolworths spokesperson Benedict Brook says the change aims to give customers information they want.

“Customers want to know as much as they can about where their fresh fruit and vegetables come from, so from this week we’re going to be giving them more information about the origin of their fresh produce,” he said.

Choice consumer group say country of origin of fresh produce, is of similar importance to consumers as price, and the labels will benefit the Australian roduce industry.

“We know that people do want to buy Australian, and are prepared to pay a reasonable premium,” Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn, said.

He says the exisiting signs do not help very much.

But some consumer behaviour experts including  Queensland University of Technology supermaket consumer behaviours expert Dr Garry Mortimer.

“Possible consumers will buy products from… their home country… but price… will still be a (key) factor,” Dr Mortimer said.

Others, including University of Wollongong food labelling expert Heather Yeatman, predict the start of a labelling trend among supermarkets.

“Consumers are asking for this.  It’s a good step and other supermarkets should do it as well,” she said.