Calculating the percentage of Australian ingredients


To calculate the percentage of Australian content in a food product, you need to break down the food into its individual ingredients or components and measure the weight of each. This is calculated according to the product’s recipe (that is, the ingoing weight) and not the final weight of the ingredients in the product after cooking or processing.

The percentage declared on the label must be a whole number that is no higher than the minimum proportion of Australian content, e.g. at least X% Australian.

How to make the calculation

If you are making tomato sauce for retail sale in Australia, you will need to determine how much of the content is Australian.

  • Australian content: 1 kg of tomatoes, 170g of olive oil, 20g of sugar, 10g of basil and 150g of water
  • Imported content: 130g of onion and 20g of garlic cloves

The ingoing weight of Australian ingredients is 1350g. The total ingoing weight of all ingredients is 1500g. Expressed as a percentage, the Australian content is 90% (1350 ÷ 1500 x 100).

Compound ingredients


It is not uncommon for foods to contain compound ingredients; that is, ingredients that are themselves made up of sub-ingredients.

Examples of compound ingredients include:

  • pasta in a ready-made meal
  • yoghurt balls in a trail mix

When a compound ingredient contains both Australian and imported sub-ingredients, the ingoing weight of the sub-ingredients must also be broken down to work out the overall percentage of Australian content. Only the Australian proportion of a compound ingredient may be counted as Australian content.

Example: calculate the percentage of Australian content from compound ingredients

If you are making a beef bolognese pasta meal using:

  • 80g tomato sauce (90% Australian content)
  • 120g beef and vegetables (Australian)
  • 175g pasta (36% Australian content)

The ingoing weight of Australian ingredients is 255g:

  • 72g for the sauce
  • 120g for the meat and vegetables
  • 63g for the pasta

The total ingoing weight of all ingredients is 375g. Expressed as a percentage, the Australian content is 68% (255 ÷ 375 x 100).

This product would have a statement indicating that it contains ‘at least 68% Australian ingredients’.

Processing aids


For the purpose of calculating the percentage of Australian content, processing aids are not considered to be ‘ingredients’. The definition of ‘processing aid’ in the Information Standard is the same as that used in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, namely a substance that is used in the processing of raw materials, foods or ingredients, to fulfil a technological purpose in the processing, but which does not perform a technological purpose in the final food.

Example: Calculate the percentage of Australian ingredients with processing aids

If you are making cheese using:

  • Australian content: Milk and salt (98%)
  • Imported content: Rennet (2%)

Rennet is used in cheese-making to separate the curds and whey. As the rennet performs no function after this, it is considered a processing aid and not included in the Australian content calculation. Therefore, the percentage of Australian ingredients in this cheese would be 100%.

Water as an ingredient


In general, water is counted as an ingredient when calculating the percentage of Australian content in a food.

The only exception to this is where water is used, alone or with other ingredients, as a ‘liquid packing medium’ (e.g. the brine in a can of tuna or the fruit syrup in a can of peaches).The water in the liquid packing medium is only counted when it is generally consumed as part of the food. For example:

  • The liquid in a can of chickpeas (aquafaba) is generally not consumed, so the water in the liquid would be excluded from the calculation.
  • The fruit syrup in a can of peaches is usually consumed as part of the food, so the water in the syrup would be included in the calculation.

The origin of water

Where water is counted as an ingredient, its origin is the country in which it was collected or harvested.

The exception to this is where water is used to reconstitute dehydrated or concentrated ingredients or other components of food (including food additives). In this instance, the water will have the country of origin of that ingredient or component.

For example, take a fruit juice drink that is manufactured in Australia by combining a Brazilian fruit juice concentrate with water from Australia. If the water added is only to the extent necessary to reconstitute the concentrate, the water will be considered to be Brazilian water. Any additional water (i.e. more than is the amount necessary to reconstitute the concentrate) would be Australian.

Average proportion of Australian ingredients


An average Australian content claim can only be used for food products made or packed in Australia. This claim is calculated by averaging the ingoing weight of the Australian ingredients over a continuous one, two or three-year period before the date the label is affixed to the package.

An average percentage claim may be preferable for food products where the amount of Australian content varies, for example, reduced availability, seasonal changes or regular changes in supplier.

Example: Calculate the average proportion of Australian ingredients in an apple pie

An apple pie is made in Australia using fresh apples (the apples make up 50% of the ingoing weight of all ingredients). For nine months of the year, the pie is made from 100% Australian ingredients. This calculation would be 9 ÷ 12 x 100 = 75%.

Due to seasonal availability, imported apples are used for the remaining three months (Australian content by ingoing weight becomes 50%). This calculation would be 3 ÷ 12 x 50 = 12.5%.

Based on a one-year average, 87.5%of the food, by ingoing weight, is Australian content.

75% + 12.5% = 87.5%

Additional information requirements

The use of an average content claim for a food item means that there will be times where the actual percentage of Australian content in a food is less than what is represented on the label. The Information Standard provides optional standard marks for situations where the average percentage of Australian ingredients is used.

To ensure consumers are not misled, country of origin labels for foods that contain varying Australian content must provide consumers with a telephone number, website, smartphone application or program where they can access more information about the product. The Information Standard sets out the requirements.

  • You must use the phrase “scan barcode for details” if consumers are to scan a barcode or similar device using a smartphone app or other software.
  • You must use the phrase “Call [phone number] for details” if consumers are to call a contact telephone number during business hours.
  • You must use the phrase “Visit [website] for details” if consumers are to visit a website address.

Example: additional information requirements for an apple pie

An apple pie manufacturer uses the average percentage of Australian content country of origin label and sets up a hotline where consumers can get more information.

The manufacturer could use a label: ‘Made in Australia—ingredient sources vary—average 87% Australian ingredients—call (01) 2345 6789 for details’.