Requirement to sell goods by net quantity

Packaged goods in New Zealand must be sold by net quantity. That means all packaging must be excluded from the quantity charged.

What 'net quantity' means

Net quantity means all packaging — such as bags, plastic pots and labelling — must be excluded from the quantity statement.

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Net quantity = Gross weight of the package − Weight of the packing material

Pre-packed goods

Pre-packed goods are packed without the presence of the purchaser. An example is a batch of 1kg bags of sugar that are packed and sealed before being offered for sale. These goods must be sold by net quantity — this means all packaging must be excluded from the quantity charged for. And if a purchaser asks you to re-weigh pre-packed goods in their presence, you must do this.

Pre-packed goods are checked by Trading Standards Officers using the Average Quantity System (AQS) to ensure packages contain their stated amount. This system has been designed to give consumers a better assurance that goods packed by weight, measure or number are, on average, correct.

The AQS applies to packaged goods that are of the same kind and the same stated quantity, such as 500g packs of butter. Trading Standards Officers will test 'lots' of packages — that is, a group of packages they select when they visit.

See The Average Quantity System (AQS) for more information.

Catch weight goods

Goods that are not packed to the same stated quantity — such as joints of meat — are known as 'catch weight goods'.

Catch weight goods are packed in varying quantities, with or without the purchaser present. Examples include trays of meat, fish, delicatessen items and some fruit and vegetables tested as individual packs.

Catch weight goods are not covered by the Average Quantity System. Trading Standards Officers will examine these packages as individual packs, and each pack must not be less than the stated net quantity.

See Trading Standards inspections for more information.

Do your own quantity checks

Doing your own quantity checks for pre-packed goods — and keeping a record of them — can act as evidence that you took all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to avoid committing an offence for supplying goods that fall short of their stated quantity.

Things you can do to show you've taken precautions include:

  • Record your quantity checks.
  • Keep training records for all staff members involved in the packing process.
  • Conduct daily or weekly accuracy checks on your equipment — using a calibrated test weight — and record the results.