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Would you buy food labelled ‘Made in China’?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2014 (n=15,944). Base: Australians 14+

Amid the current call for improved country-of-origin food labelling, the latest findings from Roy Morgan reveal that the proportion of Australians 14+ who are more likely to buy food if it is labelled ‘Made in Australia’ increased from 85% to 88% over the last two years.

In contrast, only 6% of Australians say they’d be more likely to buy food labelled ‘Made in China’ (almost unchanged from 5% in 2013). This minority group tends to have quite distinct attitudes to food, especially when compared to the much larger, Australian-made brigade.

Compared to people who are more likely to buy food labelled ‘Made in Australia’, those who are more likely to purchase Chinese-made food products are less likely to be concerned about whether food is fattening, genetically modified, or additive-free. They’re more likely to buy frozen or chilled ready-made meals, takeaway food, and to avoid dairy products when possible.

Do food attitudes influence whether we buy food made in China or Australia?


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January-December 2014 (n=15,944). Base: Australians 14+

As we reported last year, Australians who agree that they would be more likely to buy products manufactured in China tend generally to be aged at the younger end of the spectrum. This trend is strikingly evident when it comes to food: Aussies aged under-35 are dramatically more likely than their older counterparts to buy a food product if it is labelled ‘Made in China’.

However, it is worth remembering that even among the under-35s, food labelled Australian-made is far more popular overall, with its popularity rising among people aged 35 and older.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“We’ve been aware for some time that younger Australians tend to be more open to buying products made in countries other than Australia. Growing up in the digital age, they are used to having the international marketplace at their fingertips, courtesy of online retailers.

“Products manufactured in China are often considerably cheaper than goods made in many other countries (including Australia) — an added incentive for young people who may still be studying or earning a low wage.

“Among the small percentage of Australians who are more likely to buy food if it’s labelled ‘Made in China’, certain attitudes towards food stand out. These same attitudes – from ‘I often buy takeaway food to eat at home’ to ‘I avoid dairy foods wherever possible’ – are also more widespread among Aussies aged under 35 than those aged 35+.

“Of course, where someone was born has some bearing on their attitudes to goods manufactured in different countries, and our data shows that Aussies who were born in Asia are more likely than those born in Australia to buy food products labelled ‘Made in China’. However, the vast majority of Asian-born Australians are still more likely to buy food made in Australia.

“It will be interesting to see whether attitudes to Chinese-manufactured food products shift in the wake of the recent Hepatitis scare caused by frozen berries imported from China. Certainly, the call for clearer country-of-origin food labelling has never been more relevant.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%