Source Identification Project



The Northern Rivers produces an abundance and variety of high quality foods. Much of what’s grown in the region is exported, however, and access to locally-produced food is not always easy.

Buying and eating locally grown food

  • Supports local and regional businesses;
  • Reduces food miles and carbon footprints;
  • Keeps money in the local community; and
  • means fresher, tastier and healthier food foryou and your family.

The importance of labelling

Identifying where food comes from is important. It allows people to make informed choices about what they eat. Many people in the Northern Rivers assume the food they buy in supermarkets is grown locally, or at least in Australia. This is not necessarily the case, although sometimes locally-grown produce is transported to Melbourne for processing and back before it appears on shop shelves 10 or more days later.

Source Identification means communicating the origin of a food product ie. where it was grown or produced. 

 The project

In 2010-11, RDA-NR worked with Northern Rivers Food Links to assist retail outlets identify local food on their shelves. The project aims were to:

  • Increase the number of retailers who stock and identify fresh, local food
  • Increase the quantity of fresh, local food being stocked and
  • Increase retailer knowledge of the source of locally produced food.


In 2010, 180 producers and retailers were surveyed to obtain a snapshot of food production and sales in the region, including the barriers to supplying and stocking local food, and current methods for identifying locally produced food. Retailers generally perceived local food as being of higher quality than non-local food.

Case management

In 2011, tool kits were provided to 85 retailers who participated in a case management program to help them promote local foods. The kit contained advice and labelling tools including markers, posters and shelf wobblers. Five IGA branches also participated in a consumer pilot to track purchasing patterns associated with local food labelling in supermarket environments.


The follow up evaluation saw a self-reported 40% increase in the labelling of local food by the participating outlets and a 24% increase in the amount of local food stocked by them. 26% of participating retailers increased their awareness of locally-grown food and almost 50% stocked up to 25% of local produce.

The outcomes of the IGA consumer purchasing pilot supported the assumption that food labelling positively influences purchasing behaviour; however, price remains a stronger influencing factor in the final decision.

Download a PDF copy of the evaluation:

Sustain FOOD database

RDA-NR has also been urging producers to register FREE with the Sustain FOOD website to promote their businesses and products. Sustain FOOD is a hub for Northern Rivers food, providing information and advice on how to grow, store, cook, buy and eat local food.


Northern Rivers Food Links was supported by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust