Permissible Maximum Deficiency for Pre-Packed Items!

November 28, 2022

As price-conscious consumers, we aim to maximize the value of whatever products we are buying.
A common way consumers do this is by comparing the quantity (weight) of a good (which may be
of different brands and retailed by different traders) against the price.


However, did you know that items such as garlic, potatoes, onions, soap and other perishable goods
can actually dry out and lose weight (shrink) while sitting in the supermarkets/grocery store
shelves? This means that the actual weight placed on the label; which you use to make purchasing
decisions, may not be precise.


Yes, you read that right!


This weight loss due to storage conditions, duration of storage and other factors is known as
shrinkage. However, consumers must note that this also implies that you are paying more for a
lower quantity of goods.


Shrinkage


The percentage of loss in product weight between manufacture and point of sale is referred to as
shrinkage or shrink. Unfortunately, the sale of shrunken products at its actual stated price has
become a norm.


BUT WAIT!


Did you know, traders cannot just say that the weight of a product has decreased due to normal
environmental conditions and continue to charge the price for the stated weight?
That’s right.


Items which shrink in size have a permissible size of deficiency. According to the National Trade
and Measurement (Prepacked Articles) (Packaging) Regulations 1989 42 and 43, the maximum
deficiency on a package of product can be only 5%, which also includes perishable items. This isthe permissible deficiency after a day of packaging. The permissible deficiency is to allow for any
natural shrinkage that occurs over time.


What does this permissible deficiency mean?


The 5% permissible deficiency means that the weight of a product cannot be less than 5% of the
weight written on the product. For instance, a single pre-packed 500g garlic cannot weigh less than
475 grams when sold. The 25grams converts to 5% deficiency allowed in weight which is allowed
due to shrinkage.


However, this is not always the case. Products retailed by certain traders tend to have a greater
weight shrinkage than 5% of its initial weight. This was discovered for one of the meat products
in a survey conducted by the Council.

What did the Council’s Survey show?


Recently, the Council conducted a snap survey involving seven supermarkets in the Western
Division. The survey discovered that a trader was selling No. 2.9 kg frozen whole chicken which
weighed lower than the permitted deficiency of 5%. The permitted weight range stated on the
product labelling was 2.85-2.95 kg however the item weighed in at 2.770 kg. This is in breach of
the legislation.


Council’s Stand!


The Consumer Council of Fiji has received concerns from numerous consumers via emails, social
media and phone calls stating that shops are selling items with incorrect weight labels. The Council
has informed the Department of National Trade, Measurements and Standards (DNTMS) of the
findings for their enforcement action.


Whilst the DNTMS is looking in to this issue, the Council is reminding traders to be responsible
and keep a tab on products bound to shrink on their shelves.


The next step?


In order to determine whether supermarkets are adhering to the Permissible Maximum deficiency
rule, the Council will conduct more snap surveys and follow-up market surveillance.

Trader responsibility
Packers, importers, and sellers have a responsibility to ensure their company’s operations have
systems in place to achieve compliance with the national trade measurement laws. They need to:
• Ensure that the volume of the product they are selling is within the 5% permissible
deficiency range. The items traders sell should be correctly labeled and the quantities
contained in the packages must comply with measurement requirements;
• Ensure that authority is delegated to competent personnel along with appropriate and
ongoing training for ensuring compliance with national trade measurement regulations.
• Ensure that scales being used are certified by the DNTMS.
• If the product may lose weight over time due to evaporation, drying, or other causes,
consider the expected weight loss of the product and how fast the product moves from
shelves when packaging.


Consumers Responsibility

  1. Get it weighed Again!
    In consideration of the above, it is important for consumers to actually weigh items that can shrink
    in size (for instance garlic). In case of any suspicion of considerable shrinkage, consumers can
    always request for the product to be re-weighed before buying. You have the right to do so!
  2. Ask Questions
    Consumers have the right to ask as many questions as possible because they have the right to be
    informed! Consumers can also contact the Council or the Department of National Trade
    Measurement & Standards for advice on the products and its permissible deficiencies.

  3. If consumers come across any unethical or unfair trading practices when out shopping, they are
    encouraged to contact the Council via the toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint using the
    Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app

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