24th August 2022

Short-weights hit consumers’ pockets

An investigation by Trading Standards Officers in Scotland has found that short-weight products may be contributing to the cost-of-living crisis.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
With the current cost-of-living crisis, it is even more important that consumers get what they pay for

Trading Standards Officers throughout the West of Scotland are undertaking a retail monitoring project to identify short-weight products and protect consumers from detriment as prices rise due to inflation.

Officers carried out weight checks on packaged goods at 39 retail outlets, with short-weight products identified during 17 of these visits. A total of 296 different product lines were checked, with 24 (8%) found to contain short-weight packs.

A total of 2,496 individual packs were checked within these product lines, and 71 (3%) of these were found to be short weight, with deficiencies as high as 23%, leading to a detriment of as much as £1.10 per pack.

Although the vast majority of packs did not give cause for concern, 15 packers were found to have placed non-compliant products on the market, each one of these constituting a potential offence by the packer as well as causing financial harm to consumers.

One packer, with a contract to supply half-a-million supermarket ready meals every week, was found to have produced packs with deficiencies of as much as 14%, representing a loss to consumers of 26p per pack. Taken to the extreme, if the same level of deficiency were replicated across the packer’s entire production the total collective detriment to consumers could be as high as £130,000 per week, or £6.76m per year.

With food, fuel and energy prices continuing to rise, it is important that consumers receive exactly what they have paid for, including the correct quantity. Trading Standards is ideally placed to not only protect consumers against detriment through short measure products but to also support businesses responsible for placing these products on the market through advice and intervention where necessary.

David MacKenzie, Chair of the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) explained: “Measurement is at the heart of fair trade in goods and is a core issue for Trading Standards teams across Scotland, making sure that consumers get what they pay for and that businesses are weighing and measuring goods accurately. With the current cost-of-living crisis, it is even more important that the processes and systems that should be in place are working properly and consumers get what they pay for.

“SCOTSS works very closely with colleagues in Weights & Measures authorities across Scotland, and this is an excellent example of local authority officers working together to ensure the market is working properly and fairly and that consumers are getting what they pay for. Officers are there not only to protect consumers but also to help and support businesses.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *