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How trustworthy is the “Made in …”  labelling?

In this series of articles, we look at various seals or product labels, which are intended to indicate the special quality or properties of products. Thereby, we want to help you keeping a clear view on the confusing amount of product labels.

On today’s program:
The “Made in …” -labelling

If a product is labelled “Made in Austria”,  customers can buy it with a clear conscience- since it is a domestically manufactured product. One would think.
However, the Made in … label promises more than it can deliver, because it is questionable how much Austria, in a product labelled “Made in Austria”, eventually is. 

The “Made in Austria” label only requires that the final production steps of a product take place in Austria. This means that all product components can be produced abroad and then imported from Austria- only the final production must be in Austria. In a globalized world, in which the division of labor processes is increasing more and more, the question arises as to how valid the label “Made in Austria” really is.

It is worth mentioning that there are no regulations in the Austrian legal system for the application or use of the “Made in Austria” designation of origin. Earlier efforts by the EU, which stipulated that a “Made in …” label should only be awarded from a domestic value added of at least 55 percent, proved to be ineffective and could not be enforced.

In fact, there are only unclear and vague guidelines as to when a product can be labelled as “Made in Austria”, which is why there have been repeated complaints of misleading claims in the past.
One example of this is a VKI (Verein für Konsumenteninformation) investigation from 2012, which revealed that Styrian pumpkin seed oil often actually comes from China and was only bottled and packaged in Austria.

So, if you come across the “Made in…” labelling, it is quite possible, that only a certain percentage of the product was manufactured in the claimed country.

Sources: WKO, Die Presse

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