A "whole stack of pretenders" have been driving one local farmer-turned-politician nuts.
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MILKING IT: Dairy farmer Simon Elphinstone and Gavin Pearce MP hope labelling laws can protect meat and dairy from plant-based "pretenders". Picture: Brodie Weeding

Federal Member for Braddon Gavin Pearce is furious, and he’s got “fake” milk and plant-based meat in his sights.

He says it’s time for Australia to change the laws on how foods are labelled.

“Consumers really do need to know exactly what they are consuming,” he said.

He said “highly creative” and “misleading” advertising around replacement products was negatively impacting meat and dairy producers.

“I’m obviously a farmer and come from a long line of farmers, and this region of ours is synonymous with pure, agricultural, green,” he said.

“We’ve got brands calling themselves … ‘facon’ was one of them. That’s fake bacon. Not on.

“It really upsets the farmers. They’ve spent a lifetime making sure that their genetics are right.”

Plant-based milk now makes up about 7 per cent of all milk consumed in Australia, according to a 2019 report released by Australian market researcher IBISworld.

Mr Pearce said the plant-based industry provided an important dietary alternative for many people.

“I’ve got no issues with them having fake milk. But it’s almond juice … You can’t milk an almond,” he said.

The labelling is governed by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Mr Pearce said Agriculture Minister David Littleproud had recently met with representatives from the plant-based, meat, dairy, egg, manufacturing and retail sectors to discuss how to ensure food labelling could be “clear, unambiguous and accurate” for consumers.

“The misrepresentation is what I’m getting at,” he said.

“They do it to capitalise on the good name and hard work of farmers. Go get your own reputation and stop copying and passing yourself off as a pure, natural product.”

Jerry Dakin’s cows have produced milk that helped feed families across the state for decades. Now, the longtime Manatee County dairyman has been recognized as Florida’s Farmer of the Year.

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