The labelling and packaging of products play a crucial role in attracting customers, ensuring consumer safety, and allowing customers to make informed decisions before purchasing. In New Zealand, labelling and packaging regulations protect consumers from misleading information, allergens, and potential health hazards. Different products will be subject to different requirements and regulations. This article aims to provide an overview of the labelling and packaging laws in New Zealand and how they impact businesses and consumers.

Mandatory Labelling Requirements

New Zealand's labelling laws dictate that businesses must provide certain information on packaging to help consumers make informed decisions. The following table outlines some of the key mandatory labelling requirements.

Labelling Requirement Explanation
Product Identification Clearly identify all products with their name or a description accurately representing their nature and purpose.
Ingredients List Provide a comprehensive list of all ingredients used in the product, in descending order by weight.
Allergen Warnings When products contain common allergens, such as peanuts, eggs, milk, gluten, or soy, it is mandatory to highlight their presence on the packaging.
Nutrition Information Pre-packaged food items must carry nutrition information, including the amount of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients per serving.
Country of Origin Clearly state the country of origin for imported goods.
Date Marking Perishable goods must display a 'use-by' or 'best before' date to ensure consumer safety and product freshness.
Safety Warnings Products that may pose a risk to health or safety must have appropriate warning labels.
Storage and Handling Instructions Provide instructions on how to store and handle the product safely.
Contact Information Manufacturers or importers must include their contact information on the packaging to facilitate consumer feedback and inquiries.

Regulations for Specific Products

Products Sold by Quantity

If your business sells products by quantity or volume, such as essential oils, drinks, or cleaning liquids, you must include the net volume of the product, such as in millilitres or fluid ounces.

The marking of the net volume must be on the bottle and must be:

  • in a prominent position;
  • close to the name or description of the goods (if applicable);
  • clearly written or printed in letters and figures at least 2 mm in height; and
  • in a colour that contrasts distinctly with the background.

Textile Products and Care labels

All products sold in New Zealand must comply with the Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA). The FTA requires that new clothing, household fabrics and furnishings have a care label that gives consumers information about how to care for that type of good.

Depending on the product, the label may need to be attached to the product as a permanent label. If the good requires a permanent label, the label must be able to withstand the care treatment the item requires and should remain readable and attached throughout the good's life.

Care labels must:

  • be legible and in English;
  • use internationally recognised symbols (such as for dry cleaning) to accompany written instructions where required;
  • be easy to find by consumers examining the good before buying; and
  • should be on each item of a set (e.g. a suit).

Additionally, the label should include:

  • general cleaning and care instructions;
  • textile maintenance where appropriate and necessary (e.g. air regularly); and
  • any warnings against inappropriate treatment (e.g. do not tumble dry).

What Types of Goods Require Care Labels?

If you supply, offer to supply or advertise the supply of new textiles that require care labelling information, you must comply with the regulations. You must comply regardless of whether the item was made in New Zealand, overseas, or by machine or hand. Likewise, the regulations apply to textile goods for sale:

  • in a shop;
  • on online auction sites;
  • at market stalls; or
  • in craft shops.

Most types of new textiles are covered by the regulations, including:

  • clothing, household fabrics, furnishings, upholstered furniture, bedding, mattresses and bed bases;
  • plastics and plastic-coated fabrics; and
  • suede, skins, hides, grain leathers and furs.

However, some textile products do not need to have a care label, including:

  • second-hand goods;
  • footwear (except hosiery);
  • floor cloths, dish cloths, dusters, cleaning cloths and pressing cloths;
  • haberdashery, such as elastic, elastic threads, ribbons, and zips;
  • goods intended for medical and surgical use, such as bandages, dressings, sanitary pads; and
  • materials that form part of manufactured medical and surgical goods.

As a business selling products, it is your responsibility to comply with your labelling requirements. You cannot assume that your goods comply with the standards because they have been sold to you by a manufacturer or wholesaler in New Zealand or overseas.

Where you are sourcing products from overseas, different packaging laws will likely govern your manufacturer. Likewise, overseas laws may not require a care label. In this case, you should ask your supplier for more information to determine the appropriate care. You will then be responsible for ensuring that a care label is attached to the product or its packaging before sale.

You will have breached the FTA if you sell an item with no care label or an incorrect one.

Cosmetic Products

Cosmetic products are highly regulated, and several packaging requirements apply. Cosmetic products are those intended to be in contact with external body parts (including skin, hair, nails, teeth, and lips) to clean, perfume, protect, change the appearance of, or keep in good condition.

Cosmetic products must contain a label on either the product or the packaging of the product which includes the following:

  • a list of the ingredients in the product (except colour additives) in concentrations of 1% or more in descending order by volume or mass;
  • a list of the ingredients in the product (except colour additives) in concentrations of less than 1% in any order;
  • colour additives in any order; and
  • fragrance or fragrances.

The label must also provide the manufacturer's original source or batch code information.

Obtaining legal and compliance advice when labelling cosmetic products is highly recommended to ensure you comply with the regulations.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the legal requirements surrounding product packaging is essential. The information you must share about your product will largely depend on the type of product you are selling and the materials your product contains. Complying with these regulations is not only a legal requirement but also safeguards consumer health and fosters business and product knowledge and awareness.