In the guide
- Weights and measures requirements
- Exemptions to the requirements
- Price marking requirements
- Food labelling
- Trading standards
- In this update
- Key legislation
This guidance is for England, Scotland and Wales
There are a number of legal requirements that you need to be aware of when selling fruit and vegetables by weight (whether at the request of customers or prepacked ready for sale), which include weighing equipment construction and quantity price marking. For example, using a 'Government stamped' scale (as they are known), pricing and selling in metric quantities, and marking prepacked goods with the weight of the product.
Customers must be informed of the weight before paying for and receiving their goods. In general all foods, whether sold loose from bulk or prepacked, must be priced in a manner that can be seen by customers without them having to ask.
There are also specific requirements relating to 'bag and box' or 'seasonal selection' schemes where a variety of different items are placed together in a container for a sale or delivery to customers.
Weights and measures requirements
Weights and measures legislation applies to the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables as harvested, cleaned, trimmed or divided into parts and includes shelled peas and cooked beetroot.
In general, fresh fruit and vegetables must be sold by the kilogram, subject to some exemptions, which are detailed below.
Prepacked fruit and vegetables must have the net weight of the product marked on the container.
Non-prepacked items, including products selected from a larger bulk as requested by the customer, must be sold either by net weight or by gross weight; items may only be sold by gross weight if the weight of the bag, wrapper or container in which the product is served is not greater than that allowed for in table A below.
- net weight means the weight of the goods alone without the bag, wrapper or container
- gross weight means the weight of the goods plus the weight of any bag, wrapper or container
|Gross weight||Permitted weight of container|
|up to 500 g||5 g|
|more than 500 g||a weight at the rate of 10 g per kg of the gross weight|
|Gross weight||Permitted weight of container|
|up to 250 g||a weight at the rate of 120 g per kg of the gross weight|
|between 250 g and 1 kg||a weight at the rate of 100 g per kg of the gross weight|
|between 1 kg and 3 kg||a weight at the rate of 90 g per kg of the gross weight|
|more than 3 kg||a weight at the rate of 60 g per kg of the gross weight|
Scales that are used must be accurate and of an approved construction for retail sale use, and have certain required markings and stamps on them. See 'Weighing equipment for legal use' for more information.
The customer must be informed of the weight of the product and the price before paying for it. This can be done by:
- weighing the product in front of the customer so that they have a clear view of the weight indication on the scales
- marking the weight on the bag, wrapper or container
- marking the weight on a separate ticket or till receipt
This guide is intended for traditional businesses supplying products at the request of customers.
If your business also prepares large quantities of prepacked products in set quantities - for example, 5 kg packs of potatoes - you may wish to take advantage of packing them using the average-quantity system, which makes allowances for small variations in package weights.
For more information on this system please see 'Packaged goods: average quantity'. You may also wish to seek specific advice from your local trading standards service.Back to top
Exemptions to the requirements
Soft fruits and mushrooms
When sold in a container (in small containers such as punnets, for example) that complies with the requirements of table B above, soft fruits and mushrooms may be sold either by net weight or by gross weight, as long as the weight is made known to the customer prior to purchase. This can be done by means of a notice stating the weight of each container of produce.
Countable produce, as listed below, may be sold by number instead of complying with the general requirements given above:
- artichokes (globe)
- beetroots (including cooked)
- corn on the cob
- figs (fresh)
- kiwi fruit
- onions (other than spring)
- passion fruit
- soft citrus fruits
If not marked with the net weight, prepacks of countable produce must be marked with the number of items in the container, except for prepacks containing up to eight items where all of the items can clearly be seen and counted.
Prepacks containing large potatoes, each weighing over 175 g, may be sold by number providing that the container is labelled with the number of potatoes it contains and a statement that they are all heavier than a particular stated weight.
The following items may be sold by the bunch instead of complying with the general requirements given above:
- mustard and cress
- onions (including spring)
- salad cress
Seasonal bag-and-box schemes etc
The above requirements for selling by weight do not apply where selections of three or more items of fresh fruits or vegetables are put in a container ready for sale or for delivery to customers. Nor do they apply where fresh fruit and vegetable items are packed together with potatoes or other items such as cheese, meat, bread, etc.
Small and large quantities
Fresh fruit and vegetables sold in quantities of less than 5 g or more than 5 kg are exempt from the above requirements to sell by weight or number and to make the quantity known to the customer. This exemption does not apply to potatoes.Back to top
Price marking requirements
In general all foods must have their price displayed and include VAT where applicable.
The price must be displayed on or near the product, be unambiguous and easily read by customers without them having to ask for assistance.
For most non-prepacked items or for products where the customer requests a particular quantity, the unit price per kilogram must be indicated on or near the goods, or on a price list. You may also display a price per pound, but this must not be more prominent than the metric kilogram price. For more expensive products you may also assist customers with an additional price per 100 g where this might give a more meaningful indication of the price the customer will have to pay.
For fruit and veg counters in shops with a sales area of more than 280 m2 the unit price of prepacked products must also be displayed on or near the goods - for example, on a shelf edge ticket or a price list.
However, there are exceptions. The main ones are as follows:
- products near their expiry date and sold at a reduced price
- an assortment of different items sold as a single pack
- products that are not required to be sold by weight - for example, countable produce or produce allowed to be sold by the bunch
- any product where the unit price is identical to the selling price
The unit price must be in metric, generally the price per kilogram. The unit price per pound may also be given in addition to the metric marking, but must be given less prominence.
For more information on pricing generally, see 'Providing price information'.Back to top
There are a number of food labelling requirements that you will also need to comply with when selling these products. For more information see Business Companion's 'Food and drink' section.Back to top
For more information on the work of trading standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.Back to top
In this update
No major changes.
Last reviewed / updated: June 2022Back to top
Weights and Measures Act 1963 (Cheese, Fish, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Meat and Poultry) Order 1984
Weights and Measures (Miscellaneous Foods) Order 1988
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on changes to legislation can be found by following the above links and clicking on the 'More Resources' tab.