Labelling and Packaging
Labelling
Packaging
Conclusion - Labelling and Packaging

Welcome

This course provides you with an understanding of the labelling and packaging requirements for export products.

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Overview

Before you start exporting, it is important to get your labelling and packaging right. As well as looking good, it needs to suit your product and the market you’re entering. Above all it needs to meet the regulatory requirements of the country you’re exporting to.

This 30 minute module will help you:

  • understand the basic differences between export labelling and packaging
  • understand the basic requirements of labelling goods and shipments
  • contact agencies that can advise you on labelling
  • understand the importance of using the right packaging for export
  • find information on packaging standards

 

What is labelling?

When exporting, you need to clearly ‘label’ the content of your goods or shipments for all steps of the exporting chain – from customs, to the agent, to the wholesaler, to the retailer, to the customer. This must meet the requirements of the country you are exporting to and include information such as:

  • Ingredients
  • Quantity/weights/measurements
  • ‘Use by’ date
  • Warnings
  • Safety and disposal instructions
  • Where it was made (Rules of Origin)
  • Barcodes
  • Dangerous Goods declaration

Clear labelling helps to prevent goods becoming lost in transit or delayed at customs.

What is packaging?

Packaging encompasses three main areas that are important for exported goods:

Transport or export packaging is the outermost layer of packaging and is designed to protect your goods during transit, ensuring they arrive intact and undamaged for your international buyer. Examples include pallets, wooden crates, metal drums and plastic shrink-wrapping.

Outer packaging is an intermediate layer of packaging, which often also services a retail promotion purpose. This may often need to be changed to meet the needs and preferences of local market conditions. An example would be a box containing multiple units that doubles as a retail display.

Sales packaging is the immediate layer of packaging around your goods – the packaging remains when the goods reach their end user. Sales packaging often also serves a marketing purpose by containing prominent branding images and information. This should also be reviewed for export markets, with consideration being given to package sizes, language, colours and graphics.

To make sure you meet labelling requirements, you firstly need to consider the type of product you are exporting. Secondly you need to find out what the requirements are for those products in the country you are exporting to and in Australia. If a product is destined for export only then there is no requirement for Australian labelling standards.

The Australian Retailers Association is a good source of assistance with Australian labelling requirements. Unfortunately there is no central source for Australian labelling standards. Each industry develops its own standards which are overseen at state and federal level.

An Introduction to Labelling Requirements

To make sure you meet labelling requirements, you firstly need to consider the type of product you are exporting. Secondly you need to find out what the requirements are for those products in the country you are exporting to and in Australia.  If a product is destined for export only then there is no requirement for Australian labelling standards.

The Australian Retailers Association is a good source of assistance with Australian labelling requirements. Unfortunately there is no central source for Australian labelling standards. Each industry develops its own standards which are overseen at state and federal level.

Labelling Requirements - Australia

Listed below are some useful links to Australian agencies that administer labelling rules and requirements.

  • In Australia, the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code sets out requirements for the labelling and also provides other information on food sold in Australia and New Zealand. Download the poster (PDF) and webinar (PDF) for a good overview.
  • Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA), provides information on regulations related to the registration and export/imports ofPharmaceuticals and Medical Devices
  • Wine labelling information

Be careful!

Legal requirements may differ:

  • From country to country. (This may be in terms of the content on the label and the language it is written in.)
  • Between each state or even region
  • From product to product. (For example the packaging and labelling for meat will differ from wine or computer software.)

 

Labelling Requirements - International

For the most up to date information on international labelling requirements contact the appropriate governing body within the country you are exporting to. There are a number of agencies in each country covering a wide range of industries - medical, electrical, food, chemicals etc - all of which have different requirements.

Some useful links for key export markets include: 

Canada

United States

Europe

Hong Kong

Food and Environment Hygiene Department/Centre for Food Safety

India

Korea

Food and Drug Administration

Japan

Malaysia

Singapore

It is important to talk to Austrade for help in identifying the body responsible for administering labelling in a particular country and industry to ensure you get this right.

Australian Legal Requirements

There are various legal requirements for product labelling in Australia. To make things more complicated, this can be on both a national and state level. For instance some categories of goods, such as food and pharmaceutical products, are subject to detailed labelling provisions under Australian Government legislation, as well as further requirements under State and Territory laws and regulations.

Here are a few examples of goods that have specific labelling requirements and the agencies that are responsible for them. These are just a sample, so make sure that you seek independent legal advice in relation to the goods you provide.

A sample of product labelling laws

More information

For more information on labelling requirements please contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This is the organisation responsible for enforcing the Trade Practices Act 1974. Unfortunately the ACCC isn’t able give legal advice.

The ACCC provides basic advice for Australian regulations but you will still need to check specific state and industry requirements.

Rules of Origin

‘Rules of Origin’ are used to determine the country of origin of a product i.e. where a product was made. With today’s globalisation and products being processed in several countries before going to market, this can sometimes be complicated.

Rules of Origin are an essential part of international trade and used for a number of reasons. There are two common types of rules of origin depending on how they are applied, the preferential and non-preferential rules of origin.

Click on the headings below to find out about each.

Non-preferential Rules of Origin

Non-preferential Rules of Origin are used for a number of reasons, including the application of tariffs, anti-dumping actions, countervailing duties, safeguard measures, trade statistics and determining ‘Made in…’ labels.

Preferential Rules of Origin

Various countries, including Australia have preferential trade arrangements with other countries. Where two countries have a trade agreement that includes Preferential Rules of Origin, goods that ‘originate’ from that country receive a reduced rate of duty.

Visit ACCC for more information related to specific industries and countries or contact Austrade for advice on this area.

Australian Rules of Origin

Australian Rules of Origin are used to determine whether a product is Australian made or not and what terminology can be used on labelling, packaging, logos and advertising.

Section 53 of the Trade Practices Act prohibits businesses from making a false or misleading representation of the origin of goods.
 

Country of origin claim Provisions of the Trade Practices Act, s53 
'Made In Australia'
'Australian Made'
'Manufactured in Australia’
Must be substantially transformed in Australia 
Fifty percent of costs must be carried out in Australia
'Product of Australia'
'Produce of Australia'
'Produced in Australia'
Significant components must originate from Australia. 
All, or virtually all, of the production processes must take place in Australia.
Other claims:
eg 'Built in Australia'
'Assembled in Australia'
No provisions in the Act.
Individual claims are assessed on merit. 

 

More information

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) website provides some useful information on Rules of Origin.

Further information on Australian Rules of Origin can be obtained from Customs, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or NSW Small Business.

Bar Coding

Dutch-Angle-Barcode

In some countries Bar Coding is a legal requirement, and many retailers will insist upon this as a condition of supply.

Why is it used?

Bar coding is used by manufacturers and distributors to track production, parts, shipping and warehousing. Retailers use bar coding for inventory control – crucial to the success of any retail business. Inventory cycle counts, point-of-sale checkout, purchasing and sales analysis are just some of the business activities that can easily be carried out using a retail bar code system.

What do we use?

The majority of the world's producers, manufacturers and retailers use one of two bar coding systems, considered the most effective international language of trade.

These are: (Click on headings for more information.)

The Universal Product Code

The Universal Product Code was the first bar code symbology widely adopted. It was first used in 1973, in the United States, when the grocery industry formally established UPC as the standard bar code for product marking.

It is usually a 12-digit code. UPC is used in the USA and Canada.

 UPC-A barcode

The European Article Numbering (EAN) code

In 1974, manufacturers and distributors of 12 European countries formed an ad-hoc council to examine the possibility of developing a uniform and standard numbering system for Europe, similar to the UPC system already in operation in the USA.

As a result, a UPC compatible system, called European Article Numbering was established in February, 1977. The basic difference was that it added an extra digit to the beginning so that there would be plenty of numbers for the entire world.

To reflect increasing internationalisation, the name was changed to EAN International, in 1992. EAN International is now used all over the world, and the GS1 US * mandated all retail systems in the United States and Canada be able to recognise both UPC and EAN by January 1, 2005.

* see GS1 section later in this course

Examples of Bar Codes

UPC and EAN numbers are continuous symbologies, and are collectively called Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), though they can be expressed in different types of barcodes.

Here are two examples and explanations of UPC and EAN barcodes.

UPC Version A

UPC Version A Barcode

In the example shown here, the UPC Version A is a twelve digit (strictly numeric) bar code consisting of a number system character, a manufacturer’s code (the number system character and the manufacturer’s code are combined as a six or eight digit number - this number is assigned by the Uniform Code Council), a product code and a check digit. 

The first and last digits are always placed outside the symbol to indicate Quiet Zones that are necessary for barcode scanners to work properly. 

The UPC bar code was designed for coding products and can be printed on packages using a variety of printing processes.

EAN-13

EAN-13 Barcode

There are a total of thirteen characters encoded in an EAN. The first two to three characters are the country code, and the last number is the check digit. The intermediate numbers consist of the manufacturer code and product code and vary in meaning depending on which country the code comes from.

The first digit is always placed outside the symbol, additionally right quiet zone indicator (>) is used to indicate Quiet Zones that are necessary for barcode scanners to work properly.