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Market Stallholders and Roadside Traders

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Trade measurement in Australia is the system which regulates the buying or selling of goods and services, where the value of the transaction is determined by a measurement.

Whether you are selling cheese by weight, milk by volume, or fabric by length, it is important as a business to know your trade measurement obligations.

What if I use a measuring instrument to sell goods?

If you sell goods by measurement (e.g. weight, length or volume), and you use a measuring instruement (scale), the measuring instrument used must be an approved design.

Measuring instruments used in trade have to be of an approved design or pattern and be marked with an NMI (or NSC) approval number, e.g. NMI 6/4D/355 or NSC 6/4D/220.

Approved measuring instruments must also be verified by a servicing licensee or an inspector before they can be used for trade.

Servicing licensees are an important part of the national trade measurement system. They are authorised to verify the accuracy of measuring instruments used for trade.

If an article is measured and sold by weight in front of customers, then the customer must have the opportunity to see the measuring process including the readings on the measuring instruments.

Sellers are responsible for ensuring the measuring instrument:

  • is of a type approved by the National Measurement Institute (NMI) and legal for trade use
  • is verified as accurate by a servicing licensee before it is  used
  • registers zero before it is  used
  • is properly installed and appropriate for the intended use
  • is used correctly by staff who have had adequate training in its correct use.

Measurements cannot include the weight of any packaging or wrapping.

NMI recommends that you get all your measuring instruments for trade checked regularly.

If you sell fruit, vegetables or some other food by weight, the scales that you use must be verified by a servicing licensee or an NMI trade measurement inspector.

When selling a quantity of a good by weight, the weight of any packaging (the ‘tare’) must not be included. This process is called ‘taring off’. Charging a customer for the weight of a good without subtracting the weight of the packaging is an offence and could result in a costly financial penalty.

You can write the weight on the packet by hand rather than pre-print labels or bags, but only when the produce is packed and sold on the same premises. In all other cases the weight must be printed or stamped.

What if I sell goods by count?

If you sell a good by count, e.g. a dozen oranges or 100 nails, the packaging must be marked with the accurate count. The only time that you do not have to mark the count on a pack is when the produce is packed:

  • in a clear transparent bag or package
  • there is less than nine articles in the pack.

Please also see ​Approval for sale of products by number or linear or area measurement for more information.

You can write the count on the packet by hand rather than pre-print labels or bags, but only when the produce is packed and sold on the same premises. In all other cases the count must be printed or stamped.

What if I sell pre-packed goods?

All goods prepacked for sale must be marked with the net measurement (that is the weight or number without the packaging) on the principal display panel. This panel is the part of a package that is most likely to be shown under normal conditions of display.

The measurement statement must be:

  • clear to read
  • 2 mm from the edge of the principal display panel and at least 2 mm from other graphics
  • in the same direction as the brand or product name
  • in a different colour from the background

All pre-packages (unless specifically exempt) must be clearly marked with the name and street address of the packer or party accepting responsibility for packing. The use of a post office box, locked bag, telephone number or email is not acceptable.

Pre-packages must not contain less than the stated amount at all times prior to sale. If the article is likely to lose weight or volume through evaporation, dehydration or other means, the packer must make allowances for any expected losses in the measurement when packaging the product.

In addition to net weight for fruit and vegetables packed in random weights, each pack must be marked with the price/kg and total price. However, the price/kg does not need to be marked if the same article is packed in constant sizes (e.g. if all packs of carrots are marked 600 g).

What other Issues should I be aware of?

Your local council and state/territory authorities will able to advise you on issues such as:

  • permissions, licence arrangements and fees to set up a roadside stall
  • business registration
  • health and safety regulations

Regulating the sale of fruit and vegetables

NMI employs trade measurement inspectors throughout Australia. The role of inspectors is:

  • to ensure that all measuring instruments used for trade are verified and used correctly
  • to monitor the verification activities of servicing licensees
  • to check pre-packages for correct packer identification, measurement markings and accurate measure
  • to investigate complaints and resolve problems with trade measurement matters
  • to issue infringement notices or take prosecution action if a breach of the trade measurement legislation is identified.

For more information

For more information contact 1300 686 664, infotm@measurement.gov.au or use our online form.