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.

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

More Farmers Market Rules To Think About

Below is an example of a typical farmers market rules and regulations application. Of course one of the key elements that we focus on is the scale. If you are selling to your customers based on weight (which you should) then you will need to understand how the scale check procedure takes place to certify your scale for selling produce to the general public.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, jams and jellies, cheese, vinegars, cider, frozen meats and poultry, maple products, baked goods, breads, ready-to-eat foods, handmade soaps, flowers, bedding plants, and potted plants are examples of products that may be sold at the market.

 

Market management will supply farmers/vendors with market canopies and will provide assistance with the setup and breakdown of the canopies each market day. Late comers may be responsible for the setup of their canopy. Each farmer/vendor will be responsible for providing tables, tablecloths, certified scales, signs, containers, and change. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is responsible for inspecting the scales at the farmers market. DCRA will check scales for accuracy during the first month of the market opening. Scales must be clearly visible and readable to customers at all times. Any problems identified by DCRA must be corrected. If you have any questions regarding your scales, please contact the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Weights and Measures

Scale Certification

Every now and then we get asked about rules and regulations when it comes to selling fruits and vegetables to customers. The general rule of thumb is if you’re selling by weight, then you should use a scale that is legal for trade and has been checked by your state inspector. Here is a link below that basically backs up that assumption.

Vendors selling by weight must provide their own certified scales. Regarding scale certification, any vendor selling products across a scale must have a scale that is legal for trade and certified by the Bureau of Weights & Measures, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

China Electronic Price Computing Scales

It is kind of fun to look through our different software programs that we use to see exactly what folks are searching for when they visit our site. We see many of the standard terms like price computing scales with printer and legal for trade price computing scales. But we also see a lot of other words and phrases that you might not necessarily think of with our site. As you know this site is completely centered around retail scales and specifically what are price computing scales used for.  Of course over the years we have gone over all kinds of subjects like what we think makes the best price computing scale and how to use these scales too. We’ve also showed you what some of the key features are when it comes to our wide selection of scales that calculate price per ounce. We have noticed a lot of people searching for price computing scales china and our hunch is that you might be looking to find one direct from China or perhaps something else. We highly recommend that you stay away from the really cheap scales that calculate price per pound. There are several reasons. First they are probably not going to be easy to use or easy to understand since the manual is probably going to be written in chinese or some type of hybrid chinese – english. Secondly and most importantly the scale is more than likely not going to be NTEP approved. We also call this legal for trade. If the scale isn’t NTEP legal for trade then you really shouldn’t use it in a commercial setting. In the majority of states, you need a NTEP legal for trade scale to use in a commercial setting and if you get caught using a non-ntep scale, the state inspector could shut you down until you get a certified scale.

Selling fruits and vegetables by weight in Tennessee?

The article linked below gives you a general idea of what many states expect you to do regarding using certified legal for trade class III scales when it comes to selling produce at a farmers market or produce stand.  Generally, in most states anyone selling fruits and vegetables by weight to customers must use a state inspected legal for trade certified scale which has a certificate of conformance number.  Complying with the rules takes two steps.  First, the seller needs to purchase a NTEP approved legal for trade scale (our site can help you with that).  Then the legal for trade scale must be inspected and approved by your individual state.  See more info below. 

Scales must conform to National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) standards. Scales that comply with NTEP guidelines typically will be marked with the NTEP logo and the associated accuracy class which is normally “III” with produce scales. Scales marked “not legal for trade” are not acceptable for retail use in Tennessee. Scales must also comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 44 (H44) which mandates tolerances, specifications and other technical requirements for all weighing and measuring devices. Both NTEP and H44 requirements are national standards utilized by the vast majority of all states. See article

Commercial Scales for the Farmers Market Can Cost over $400

Legal for Trade Commercial scales can cost well over $400, but if you do a little research, you won’t pay near that much for a set of high quality farmers market scales.  Yes, you could get away with using a set of “household” scales, either hanging or digital, but that is ultimately not the way to establish trust and legitimacy with your customer who is buying produce from you.

Do some research and buy a legal for trade price computing scale that can be certified by the state.  In most states it is a requirement.  However, sometimes due to budget restraints and manpower, merchants get the idea that they can get away with not purchasing a legal for trade scale.  Sometimes every now and then you hear comments Continue reading

Farmer’s Market Weighing

We hear these questions below all the time.

1. Does anyone know what/if there are regulations for what type of scale
     a produce vendor uses at farmers markets?
2. Do other farmers have their scales certified by a state
      Weights and Measures department?
3. Is digital better than an old mechanical hanging dial scale?

If you’re curious or new to the farmer’s market or produce stand business and need a legal for trade scale for weighing  apples, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, squash and more; scroll down because we have answers to many of your questions.

First up regulations and certifications. Check with your state weights and measures standards department for the specific requirements (you should Continue reading