Selling Fruits and Vegetables To Customers By Weight

When you sell your fresh produce at the market or the produce stand you have several choices. You can sell your items pre packed in a bucket or container for a fixed price or you can sell your items by the pound. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we’re fans of selling and buying produce by weight. This way both the customer and the seller know what they are exchanging. Let’s face it we’ve all purchased something over the years that we felt like wasn’t a good deal. One example might be a bucket of strawberries that a local u-pic farm was offering. They offer it at a certain price but how many strawberries did we really get? Take a look at the info below that discusses Illinois regulations.

Selling by Weight
Commodities must be sold by net weight. The weight of the commodity must exclude any materials that are not considered to be a part of the commodity. These materials include containers, bags, labels, and wrappers. Commodities sold by weight must be weighed using a certified scale.

Scale Requirements
All scales used in commerce must have a National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Certificate of Conformance issued by the National Conference on Weights and Measures. Scales receive an NTEP Certificate of Conformance after the successful completion of the evaluation and testing of the device.
The Certificate indicates that the device meets applicable requirements for commercial weighing and measuring equipment in the U.S. Scales must be purchased from a registered service company.


If you’re a loyal reader of our blog you understand by now that we are believers in buying NTEP Class III legal for trade scales. These scales are usually a higher quality product and are designed for accuracy and typically are built with a slightly more expensive parts list. This means that these scales usually have better load cells inside, better A/D boards, and just generally a better more solid structure.

More Farmers Market Rules and Regulations To Read About

Most of the information posted below is pretty standard but we thought it would be nice to bring it to our readers attention just in case. Especially, those of you up in Maine. You can see the entire brochure by clicking here.

7. “Legal For Trade Scales for Use at Farm Stands and Farmer’s Markets” means labeled as Class II or Class III, National Type Evaluation(NTEP) certified, small division size, operates at a higher level of accuracy than a
non-legal for trade device.
9. “Net Weight” means the weight of a commodity excluding the weight of any material, substance or item not a part of the commodity (i.e.: containers, bags, wrappers, labels).
10. “Non-Legal For Trade Scales” means not certified by the Maine State Sealer of Weights and Measures, not NTEP certified, not designed to operate at commercial tolerance levels, only used for estimating purposes.

G. WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
1. The weight of any commodity packaged with a pre-determined weight printed on the label must meet or exceed the labeled quantity.
2. Products sold in bulk by weight must be weighed using a ME certified scales.
3. Weight of products sold in bulk must be the Net Weight.
4. Scales used at point of sale must be positioned so the weight readout can be seen from a reasonable customer location.

As we mentioned, it’s pretty standard info but it’s always nice to read additional regulations which will hopefully help sellers at the market to know what the regulations are and allow them to make the correct purchases in order to follow the proper guidelines.

What is the Best Way to Sell Fruits and Vegetables at the Farmers Market?

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get excited just thinking about sampling all the fresh fruits, vegetables, tasty ready-to-eat foods, crafts, and more at your local farmers market?  The majority of Markets are open during this time of the year. Have you ever wondered what does the Department of Agriculture require of me in order to be a vendor at my local farmers market? What kind of scale do I need? Will someone test my scale? Is it ok to sell my produce by the head, bunch or count? These are just a few of the questions that your local Measurement Standards Division can assist you with. Below is some information from the state of Oregon.

SCALE REQUIREMENTS
What type of devices can be used commercially?
Oregon regulations require all commercially used weighing equipment to have an active National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Certificate of Conformance.

How can I find out which scales have an active NTEP certificate?
You can contact the scale company or check the NTEP database online.

 

Commodity Method of Sale
Apples Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Apricots Weight
Artichokes Weight or count
Asparagus Weight or bunch
Avocados Count
Bananas Weight
Beans Weight or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Beets Weight or bunch
Berries (all) Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Broccoli Weight or bunch
Brussel sprouts Weight
Cabbage Weight or count
Cantaloupes Weight or count
Carrots Weight or bunch
Cauliflower Weight or bunch
Celery Weight or count
Cherries Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Coconuts Weight or count
Corn on the cob Count
Cranberries Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Cucumbers Weight or count
Currants Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Dates Weight
Eggplant Weight or count
Escarole Weight or count
Figs Weight
Garlic Weight or count
Grapefruits Weight or count
Grapes Weight
Greens (all) Weight
Kale Weight
Kohlrabi Weight
Leeks Weight
Lemons Weight or count
Lettuce Weight or count
Limes Weight or count
Mangoes Weight or count
Melons (whole) Weight or count
Melons (cut or pieces) Weight
Mushrooms Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Nectarines Weight or count
Okra Weight
Onions (spring or green) Weight or bunch
Onions (dry) Weight
Oranges Weight or count
Papaya Weight or count
Parsley Weight or bunch
Parsnips Weight
Peaches Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Pears Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Peas Weight
Peppers Weight or count
Persimmons Weight or count
Plums Weight or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Pineapples Weight or count
Pomegranates Weight or count
Potatoes (Irish or sweet) Weight
Prunes Weight
Pumpkins Weight or count
Radishes Weight or count
Rhubarb Weight
Rutabagas Weight
Spinach Weight or bunch
Tangerines Weight or count
Tomatoes Weight, count, or dry measure in units of 1 peck, 1/2 bushel, or 1 bushel
Tomatoes (cherry) Weight or dry measure in units of 1/2 dry pint, 1 dry pint, or 1 dry quart
Turnips Weight or bunch


We hope this article above helps you not only figure out what scale you need for selling at the farmers market but also what are some of the recommended ways (weight, count, bunch etc..) to sell your produce and vegetables. Of course we’re biased on this site because we think weight is the best choice and it probably is, in most cases with a few exceptions.

Class III Certified Scales At The Farmers Market Are Recommended

At most farmers markets around the United States, state inspectors use calibrated weight kits to validate and certify digital scales for commercial transactions. Laws and regulations can vary from state to state but generally it is a good idea to purchase a scale that is Class III NTEP approved, legal for trade. The scale will have a Certificate of Conformance (CoC#) that should be posted somewhere on the enclosure. Of course, this is something we’ve been saying for years and years but we still see sellers every now and then trying to use some cheap scale they bought on ebay for $35.  In fact, next time you’re buying something over a digital scale like chocolate, candy, or frozen yogurt, take a look at the scale and see if you can find the CoC #.  Take a look at the article below for additional info.

At farmers markets, growers have the option to sell produce by weight. If they choose to do so, they will need to meet the South Dakota laws regarding certified scales. South Dakota Codified Law requires any device used in a commercial transaction to be an approved NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program) device, meet the requirements of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Handbook 44, and to be certified and sealed (inspected) by the State of South Dakota Department of Weights and Measures. This includes countertop scales, typically found at farmers markets. Inspecting a scale is beneficial to both the vendor and consumer, as it ensures both parties are receiving fair and equitable treatment. For example, consumers want to feel confident they are “getting what they pay for,” while vendors need to know they are not giving away their hard earned product.

Vendors should purchase a scale with a NTEP certification. This certificate indicates that the scale demonstrated the ability to be properly calibrated and can hold calibration over time. Keep in mind that no device is perfect and must be adjusted periodically. Scales can be purchased off the Internet, from scale companies in South Dakota, or additional locations you may select. – See more at: http://igrow.org/community-development/local-foods/farmers-market-operation-certified-scales/

We should also mention that you should get your scale checked and calibrated each year. We suggest doing this in February (or whenever your “slow” time of the year is) when your weighing needs aren’t quite as intense as they are in spring and summer. At this time you should make sure your scale is accurate and purchase any accessories like spare rechargeable batteries or keypads so there are no surprises during your busy time of the season.

NEW PRODUCT!! Detecto DM15 Scale With 240 Ounce Capacity

This is no joke! The Detecto DM15 is the ideal choice for retail frozen yogurt, ice cream, coffee beans, nuts, and candy stores. The Detecto DM15 price computing scale features a unique 240 ounce capacity by 0.1 ounce accuracy (15 lb x 0.005 lb). The DM15 scale offers up to 99 easy-to-add PLUs for fast reference (14 direct quick keys and 85 indirect PLUs) and displays Weight, Unit Price, and Total Price on the front and rear backlit LCDs (up to six 0.5-in/13-mm high digits) for both the operator and customer to view simultaneously. The retail price computing scale offers a dual power source of rechargeable battery pack and 110/120VAC 50/60 Hz adapter (included). Auto Shut-off, Sleep, and Backlight Off modes extend the retail scale’s battery life. The NTEP legal-for-trade scale’s Pre-Pack key saves time by retaining the Unit Price and Tare for repetitive price computing, making the operator’s job even faster. Features adjustable feet and bubble level.

The particulars you may be interested in are as follows. The scale model number is DM15. The capacity is 240 oz or 15 lb. Readability is 0.1 oz or 0.005 lbs. The display is 0.5-in/13-mm high, 7-segment LCD digits with backlight. The digits are listed as 6 digits each for Weight, Unit Price, and Total Price. Of course everyone wants to know the power options which are 12 VDC 1.0A rechargeable battery pack (included) or AC adapter 110/120 VAC 50/60 Hz (included). The battery operation is listed as 120 working hours of continuous use without backlight turned on / 60 hours with backlight turned on. If you utilize the memory functions they are PLU: Up to 99 Price Look Ups (14 direct quick keys and 85 indirect). The tare capability is 100% of full scale capacity. You will want to use the scale in an environment with an operating temperature of 14 to 104 degrees F. The weighing platform is stainless steel. Finally, the scale is NTEP approved Class III with certificate of conformance number 13-058. Continue reading

NEW PRODUCT! Ohaus Aviator 7000 Retail Scale

Over the years the Ohaus line of retail price computing scales has been a pretty solid choice for customers looking for a reliable, high quality scale. Of course the predecessor of the Ohaus RE15US and RE30US was the old XRT series scales. And of course before that we had the Tiger II scale. And finally before that it was the 8433 scale. All of those were nice scales that were fairly simple to use and they just worked. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll still see an old 8433 still in action at some small farmers market. Recently, we received word that Ohaus was going to be upgrading their retail scale lineup and replacing the RE and RA series.  Below is a summary of the new scale and a link on where to purchase the new scale.

The Ohaus Aviator 7000 retail scale has been conceived to offer optimum quality versus price in order to guarantee the robustness, operating speed and accuracy you need, whatever your retail environment. The Light-Touch layer keyboard is setting standards thanks to its fast operation, easy cleaning and cost efficiency, while the large 4-line LCD including separate tare line makes daily tasks simple. For secure and easy transportation the Aviator 7000 includes practical design features such as Ergo grips and integrated cable storage. In addition it offers POS protocol support. Overall the Aviator 7000 offers you a complete package of features rarely seen on an entry level price-computing scale – ensuring that it stands out from the crowd.

Key Features and Benefits of the Aviator 7000
Two Model Options and Several Weighing Ranges
Aviator® 7000 is available as a compact or tower model. Both models are available in the following dual weighing ranges: 15 x 0.005 lb / 30 x 0.01 lb and 30 x 0.01 lb / 60 x 0.02 lb. Continue reading

NTEP legal for trade Class III Definition

There are a number of questions that potential customers will often ask regarding NTEP legal for trade scales. How do I know if my scale is a NTEP legal for trade variety? Any NTEP approved scale manufactured after 1986 must be labeled Class III if it is commercial quality. It will have an identification plate with the serial number, the manufacturer’s name, a model number, maximum capacity, number of measurement divisions, CoC#, and size of the smallest measurement. Also, one other subject that is asked about is “classes” that are used in describing the legal for trade status of scales. Often you will see NTEP Legal for Trade Class III. But, what exactly is the definition of class 3? Handbook 44, the book that spells out rules and regulations for the weighing industry, separates weighing devices into five accuracy classes. Continue reading

Product Spotlight: CAS ER Junior Retail Scale

Digital price computing scales like the CAS ER JR are designed to take all the guess work out of pricing. These general purpose computing scales for direct sale of commodities in stores such as supermarkets, delicatessens and groceries are designed for portable use with AC power and built in rechargeable battery. The ER Jr certified scale is ideal for farmers markets, sandwich shops, bakeries, candy and coffee shops, convenience stores, produce markets, hardware stores and more. The scale features a 30 pound weighing capacity.

The ER Jr legal for trade certified price computing scale exemplifies CAS Quality and will give you years of dependable service at an affordable price. The ER Junior features a 30 pound dual range NTEP approved capacity. The scale has (3) direct price look ups (PLU’s) and includes a bright liquid crystal display on the operator side for the scale operator and on the customer side for the customer to see. The display includes a vibrant blue backlight.

The ER Jr from CAS Corporation is completely portable with the built in rechargeable battery which lasts up to 200 hours (without backlight) on a single charge. A low battery indicator lets you know when it is time for a charge. The ER Jr legal for trade produce scale has a small footprint at 11.75 inches x 12.75 inches and will fit easily on counter tops, tables or any tight workspace. With best in class features and an affordable price, you can place multiple ER Jr price computing scales throughout your business to ensure customer satisfaction and maximum profitability. Additional standard features include lb/kg unit switching and three different methods to enter a tare weight: platter tare, keyboard tare, and programmable tare for a PLU. If you’re in the market for a basic retail scale that can calculate price per pound, then you may have found the perfect item for your needs. If you need a price quote or additional information please call the sales department at Central Carolina Scale at (919) 776-7737 today.

Is There Still A Hanging Produce Scale For Sale That’s Certified Legal For Trade?

We usually focus on the digital retail scales that you see at the market each week but today we wanted to look at a classic scale you’ve probably seen at a produce market. You would be surprised at how often customers ask if they can still purchase a hanging scale for weighing their produce at the farmers market. Even though we now have the super fast and relatively reliable digital scales available, many customers actually ask for the proven performer with the dial that spins around to display the weight. Sometimes it actually does make a lot of sense to choose one of these classics. If you don’t want to fool around with batteries every few weeks, then a hanging dial scale might be a good choice. If your location has an overhang or tent that is easy to attach a scale to, then this might be a good idea for you.

NTEP certified hanging produce scales

Of course, if you choose to go this route, you will want to choose a NTEP certified legal for trade hanging scale like the Chatillon series. It’s also a good idea to get a scale that has the double dial so both sides can see the dial and completely agree on the weight that is listed on the scale dial. Unfortunately, if you do choose one of these scales, you will need to bring your calculator with you to calculate the price per pound.

The Chatillon Century Series hanging scale is well known for  accuracy, dependability and reliability. The Century Series feature a glass-covered 7-inch dial that reads clockwise. A double dial option is available (one dial reads clockwise, the other counter clockwise). These scales feature a corrosion-resistant band, bezel and housing and have a rugged, steel inner frame. Scale capacities are reached in two pointer revolutions.

The Centry Series are Class lll “Legal for Trade” scales. Century Series can be supplied with a CG Series scoop or the popular CAS circular pan. The CAS Pan is constructed of stainless steel. 3-inch deep round pan has drain holes. The CG Scoop is ideal for weighing loose materials. Scoop and suspension chain of galvanized construction.

Legal for Trade Scale Requirements

Quite often many customers purchase new digital scales or they have their current scale calibrated or certified. These are typically scales they can use at places like the farmer’s market to sell their produce by the pound. Basically any device used where items are bought or sold by weight is normally required by most state’s laws to be inspected and certified each year. This would include a counter top digital scale at a farmer’s market (or mechanical hanging scale) that is used to weigh produce that customers want to buy. Of course, inspecting a retail scale is an advantage to both the farmer and the customer. As you can see below it’s important to have accurate and legal weighing equipment.

 Keep in mind the article was for South Dakota, so be sure to check with your state department of agriculture or weights and measures to see what your state’s rules are. The author of the article also said if you do not want to purchase a certified scale then you must sell your items by the bag, piece, or bunch — or in pint or quart containers. This is not the selling method I would recommend. These days customers are counting every penny and want to know exactly what they’re paying for. Your customers want to know exactly how much they’re buying and likewise how much it costs. Even if you chose to not use a certified scale at the market, you still might want to check weigh some of the bags or buckets to make sure that you and the customer are getting the correct portions versus profits.

Of course we’ve discussed this topic before on this site but if you are buying or selling your items based on weight, you want to make sure that you purchase a scale that has NTEP approval with a certificate of conformance number.  The CoC# should be on the side of the scale in most cases.