What does the ‘Made in NZ’ label actually mean?

Ryan Boyd
What does the ‘Made in NZ’ label actually mean?

30 years ago, a campaign launched to help promote New Zealand made products, proudly claiming they were, well, Made in NZ.

It was only intended to last a year, but thanks to the support of local businesses, that little New Zealand Made kiwi is still accompanying everything from food to clothing to furniture to jewellery and anything else that Kiwis are busy producing in our big backyard.

But what are the rules around labelling your products NZ made? How do you go about getting one for your product? And does it actually make a difference?

Ryan Jennings, Executive Director at Buy NZ Made, helps shed some light.


What are the criteria?

“There are three key criteria,” Ryan says. “The first being: where does the significant manufacturing process take place? We want to see that that takes place in New Zealand.

“The second is what is the essential characteristic of the product is, what makes it what it is, we want to see that it is sourced in New Zealand.

“And then the third is a broader test which is what would consumers think, what would their perception be? Is this made in New Zealand or not?

“So depending on the industry and the product set, we will weight those differently and make a call on an application, and either approve or reject on those conditions.”

If you are not entirely sure your product qualifies, Buy NZ have created guides you can follow to ensure you meet the criteria for manufacturing, food, and health products.


NZ in demand

But is there actually any evidence that shows that consumers care about buying goods that are Kiwi made? Yes, says Ryan.

“There was a recent study by (Lincoln University senior lecturer) Dr Nic Lees saying that the primary choice anywhere in the world for a consumer is to purchase locally. And when it comes to food and beverage, the second best preference anywhere in the world is to buy from is New Zealand.

“So by labelling as New Zealand Made it can create a market origin advantage, not just for consumers here who want to purchase because they’re loyal or proud to be Kiwi, but also internationally because they can trust what they are eating and drinking or potentially putting their skin.

“It’s more than just a branding. It is very much something that ties into what New Zealand is all about. And yet not all New Zealand businesses see this and are not necessarily capitalising on the market origin advantage story of New Zealand Made.”


“If you can’t back it up, don’t say it”

That's the line the Commerce Commission uses not just for Made in NZ claims, but any representations made about products.

In an educational video, the Commission spells out that the best way to avoid any fines is to back up any claims with documented evidence before the claim is made.

Even if a claim is true, such as labelling it “organic”, “healthy”, or indeed “Made in New Zealand”, making it without proof is against the law.

In 2017, health supplement company Topline was fined over $500,000 for claiming its bee pollen was made from “the hardworking bees of New Zealand’s pristine wilderness”, when it was actually from China. (Note: they were not using the New Zealand Made Kiwi logo.)

“It was simply untrue that the products were New Zealand-made and there was no way consumers could tell the Chinese origin of the pollen from the labelling,” said Commissioner Anna Rawlings.


How can your products carry the Kiwi logo?

You can apply for a licence to use the “New Zealand Made” Kiwi trademark at Buy NZ’s website. There is an annual fee and registration fee, which vary depending on your business’ size, and costs are listed on their website.

For charities and schools, both these fees are waived.

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