Hampshire Trading Standards

Greengrocers and the law

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

If you are to sell fruit and vegetables by retail, then this summary will help you understand what the law requires in relation to weights and measures and price indications.

For labelling requirements see Food labelling for greengrocers.

Must I sell all loose fruit and vegetables by weight?

As a general rule, yes (see below for the exceptions). The weight may either include the weight of the produce without wrapping - the ‘net’ weight - or the ‘gross’ weight, which includes the wrapping materials provided they do not exceed a permitted amount which varies according to the gross weight of the product.

Must customers know the weight of produce before they buy?

Yes, you must make the weight known to the buyer before payment is made. This can be done in one of four ways:

  1. By weighing the goods in front of the customer - the scales must be clearly visible.
  2. By marking the weight on the packet.
  3. By giving your customer the weight in writing, perhaps by using a combined weight and price ticket.
  4. By stating the weight on a display notice.

Are there any special rules to look out for?

Yes, there are. Although most loose fruit and vegetables must be sold by net or gross weight, there is an exception known as ‘countable produce’ (see below for a full list). Countable produce may be sold by number.

Another exception to the general sale by weight rule is certain salad produce such as carrots, spring onions, radishes and watercress, which you can sell by the bunch (see below for a full list).

Pre-packed fruit and vegetables must be sold by net weight, or in the case of countable produce, by number. The pack must be clearly marked with the contents. Up to eight countable produce can be sold in a transparent container, without being marked.

Are there any variations I should know about?

There are some variations. These are:

  • Mixed fruit & vegetables - Sales by the ‘box’
    Where a mixture of fruit and vegetables are prepacked, for retail sale, usually in a bag or box, then the pack need not be sold by or marked with weight provided certain condition are met.
    1. The mixture must be pre-selected and packed by the seller in advance of sale;
      (If the produce is separately selected by the customer then the rules for the individual sale that type of food apply.)
    2. The ‘box’ must contain 3 or more different items (one can be potatoes); or
    3. The ‘box’ must contain more than 5Kg of produce.
  • Potatoes
    Loose potatoes can be sold by either net, or gross weight. If you sell them by gross weight, the wrapper must be within the weight limit in Table A below. Potatoes must be prepacked by weight. However, packs containing very large potatoes (over 175g each) can be sold by number rather than weight. All bags of pre-packed potatoes must indicate a marked weight or number.
  • Soft Fruits/Mushrooms
    Soft fruits (see below for full list) and Mushrooms, must be sold either by net or gross weight. (If sold by gross weight, containers - such as punnets - must not weigh more than the amount in Table B below.) The quantity must be made known to the customer before he buys to takes possession of the food.
 

What price information must I give?

All foods displayed for sale must be priced. The price indication should be in writing, unambiguous, easily identified and clearly legible so that customers are able to determine the price without asking for assistance. Generally the unit price (price per kg or price each if sold by number) should be indicated. The equivalent imperial price (per lb) may also be stated but must not be more prominent than the metric price. Prepacked items should be marked with their selling price, but do not require a unit price if all packs of the same produce are the same weight.

Can I sell Fruit and Vegetables by the bowl?

You can display bowls of produce for sale but the manner in which you sell these must comply with the relevant rules indicated above. If you intend to sell produce in this way you should seek further advice from Trading Standards to ensure that you are providing your customers with the required price and quantity information.

 

What weighing machines can I use?

All weighing machines used to weigh or pre-pack fruit and vegetables must be of an approved type and carry either an EC verification mark or a UK inspector’s stamp, to show that they have been properly tested. See weighing equipment in use for trade for more details.

 

Tables of permitted weights for containers

Table A - Potatoes  
Gross Weight Permitted weight of container
Not exceeding 500g 5g
Exceeding 500g a weight at the rate of 10g per kg of the gross weight
   
Table B Soft fruit/mushrooms  
Gross Weight Permitted weight of container
Not exceeding 250g a weight at the rate of 120g per kg of the gross weight
Exceeding 250g but not exceeding 1 kg a weight at the rate of 100g per kg of the gross weight
Exceeding 1kg but not exceeding 3 kg a weight at the rate of 90g per kg of the gross weight
Exceeding 3kg a weight at the rate of 60g per kg of the gross weight
 

'Soft Fruits' means

biberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, boysenberries, brambles, cherries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, loganberries, mulberries, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries, tayberries, whitecurrants

'Countable' Produce

Apples, Apricots, Artichokes (globe), Aubergines, Avocados, Bananas, Beetroots (including cooked), Cabbage, Cauliflower, Capsicum, Celery, Coconuts, Corn on cob, Cucumber, Fennel, Figs (fresh), Garlic, Grapefruit, Guavas, Kiwi fruit, Kohlrabi, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Mangoes, Marrows, Melons, Nectarines, Onions (other than spring), Orange, Passion Fruit, Pawpaw, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Plums, Pomegranates, Pomelo, Pumpkins, Radishes, Shaddock, Soft citrus fruit, Tomatoes, Ugli

 
 

Contact

Trading Standards Service
Montgomery House
Monarch Way, Winchester SO22 5PW

tel 01962 833620
fax 01962 833698
email tsadvice@hants.gov.uk

B/wei/052/003 September 2010