SPECIFIC QUANTITIES: A CHANGE IN THE LAW
This Directive removed the need for packers to make up pre-packages of a whole variety of products in fixed nominal quantities. For example, prior to this Directive coming into force, packers of Cereal breakfast foods could only pre-pack them in quantities of 125g, 250g, 375g, 500g, 1kg, 1.5kg or a multiple of 1kg. Similar restrictions applied to a whole host of other products such as biscuits, chocolate products, coffee, jams, flour, honey, potatoes, tea and many others. The quantities differed for each product type but the principle remained.
After extensive consultation the European Commission concluded that there was no longer a beneficial consumer effect by retaining these specified quantities so the new Directive was adopted and came into effect in April across the EU.
How widely packers will choose to use the freedom to change quantities remains to be seen but experience shows that wherever possible packers will tend to reduce sizes rather than increase prices so its likely that we will soon see a whole variety of pack sizes being available. Packers will be required to mark the packages with the nominal quantity that they pack but it will be interesting to see whether they reduce the physical size of the pack and whether consumers realise that the packaged weights have changed.
Further details of the new Regulations – Weights and Measures (Specified Quantities) (Pre-packed Products) Regulations 2009 – can be found on the NMO website, www.nmo.bis.gov.uk under the heading of Legislation and Guidance. The NMO Guidance notes to the new legislation can also be downloaded from there.