A bill that will give shoppers better information about where their food comes from is expected to pass its third reading this evening with almost unanimous support.

The Consumers' Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill, which requires food to carry country of origin labelling, is expected to be supported by all parties with the exception of Act.

The bill is in the name of Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, who took over the member's bill from former Green MP Steffan Browning when he resigned at the last election.

The food covered under the bill are those with only one ingredient which are either unprocessed or have minimal processing.

They include fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, seafood and meat, including cured pork products such as ham and bacon.

Hughes said the bill contained powers under the Fair Trading Act for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi to add more foods later.


"I would be urging the Minister to include as many foods as possible," he said.

The law change was initially designed to cover all single ingredient foods but the parliamentary committee which reported on the bill said it was better to start with a simple approach.

The kind of products that will not require country of origin labelling include tinned vegetables and fruit, and frozen mixed vegetables.

There had been unhappiness at the bill that cured pork products were not included but Hughes said there was an 11th-hour inclusion during the select committee process which made the bill more palatable.

"We got bacon and pork products back into the bill. We got bacon in, literally in the 11th hour," Hughes said.

"That was a biggie because 85 per cent of out bacon and ham comes from overseas and 95 per cent of that's from countries with worse animal welfare standards," Hughes said.

National's food safety spokesman Nathan Guy said the committee had made changes to the bill to get it to a stage National could support it.

"We realise consumers want to make informed decisions about which country their food comes from. National now is comfortable to support it because of practical changes made to the bill," he said in a statement.

Act leader David Seymour said the law would effectively act as a new tax on consumers.


"The new bureaucracy places additional costs on firms that will be passed on in the form of higher prices. Business already face enough red tape, they don't need any more," he said in a statement.

Hughes said business had indicated that would not be the case.

"What we heard from many retailers was that the costs are going to be miniscule and many companies and food providers regularly change their labels anyway so that's going to be par for the course."

Some of New Zealand's largest businesses and lobby groups, including Fonterra and Federated Farmers, have opposed the bill.

Once the law passes, Faafoi will have 18 months to put into put in place regulations and the new labels will then be phased in over six months for fresh food and two years for frozen foods.

A Consumer New Zealand/Horticulture New Zealand survey last year showed 71 per cent of people wanted mandatory country of origin labelling for fruit and vegetables. Only 9 per cent did not support mandatory labelling.

Sixty-five per cent of shoppers said they looked for labelling information when buying fresh fruit but only 32 per cent said they always found it. With fresh vegetables 29 per cent said they always found labelling information.