Country of Origin Labeling for Packaging
My products are 100% sourced and made in the USA, though, we are considering using overseas made packaging for these products. Is it legal to label my product, which is entirely sourced and made in the U.S., as “Made in the USA,” even though the packaging is made overseas?
Country of origin labeling is mandatory for all products. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not require disposable containers in use at the time of importation to be marked to show the country of their own origin (see 19 Code of Federal Regulations §134.24). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates claims of U.S. origin under its general authority to act against deceptive acts and practices. "Made in the USA" claims are voluntary for most products, with the exception of clothing and other textile or wool household products, which are subject to special rules mandating disclosure of both foreign and U.S. content (see the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act and Wool Products Labeling Act).
The FTC issued a final rule in July 2021 that codified its longstanding enforcement policy statement regarding voluntary "Made in the USA" or U.S.-origin claims (see 86 Federal Register 37022), but did not expressly address packaging in that rule (see 16 C.F.R. Part 323). In response to a question about "Made in USA" labels on an adhesive products where the tubes, caps, syringes, and applicators used to hold the product were foreign made, FTC wrote in a closing letter*:
"While the glue contained in that packaging was "all or virtually all" made in the United States, the packaging itself, which had no independent value to consumers and was typically discarded upon depletion, was not. In the absence of consumer perception evidence showing otherwise, FTC staff finds it is unlikely that reasonable consumers interpreted the unqualified U.S. origin claims on these adhesive products as covering the incidental, discarded packaging."
For more details on the closing letter and implications for packaging generally, see the article, FTC Addresses Packaging in "Made in USA" Closing Letter Following NARB Referral.
Advertising issues depend on consumer perception, so are often fact-dependent. If you have specific questions, we would be happy to assist you under an attorney-client relationship.
*A closing letter is issued after FTC investigates possible violations of consumer protection or competition laws. If FTC decides against taking immediate enforcement action, it will issue a closing letter.