SHOPPERS want to support farmers by buying Australian foods, but their hip pocket takes precedence at the supermarket check-out, the head of the National Farmers Federation said on Thursday.
NFF president Jock Laurie was reacting to a report revealing what level of "home brand" products sold at the two main supermarkets were actually produced in Australia.
Consumer advocate group Choice released a report on Thursday revealing that only 38% of all home brand products sold at Woolworths were locally-made or grown.
The report also showed Coles had slightly more local home brand products, at 55%, of the retail chain's complete home brand range.
Mr Laurie said the amount of overseas' produced food products was a symptom of government regulations pushing up the price of Australian food.
He said farmers who were trying to compete with overseas producers, and remain in line with Australia's high quality food production standards, were being left behind as retailers sought cheaper food products from foreign sources.
Mr Laurie also said that while Australians often wanted to support local farmers by buying local food, the reality was that consumers, more often, simply bought the cheapest products, even if the food was produced in countries with lower food standards.
Choice analysed more than 360 products from both supermarkets, including tinned foods, cereals, biscuits, snacks and frozen food.
Of the best-selling products Choice analysed, or "market leaders", some 92% of those were grown or made in Australia.
Among the countries both supermarkets were listed as sourcing food products were New Zealand, Belgium, Italy, Fiji, China, Malaysia, Germany and the Netherlands.
Both Coles and Woolworths have a buy local policy in place, when and where possible.
89% of shoppers say it is important the food they buy is Australian.
82% of shoppers say it is important this food is packaged in Australia.
83% of CHOICE members say buying Australian-owned is important
Of 100 market leader products:
42% were packaged locally with some or all ingredients from overseas.
Of Coles products:
63% were labelled as packaged in Australia from a combination of local and/or imported ingredients
Of Woolworths products:
71% of Woolworths products were labelled as packed locally but including ingredients of overseas origin.
SOURCES: CHOICE, 2012, 2011; Roy Morgan, 2009.