Packaged Commodities Amendment Rules 2012, India

Kolkata: From Thursday, Nov. 01, all manufacturing units of 19 specified commodities are to conform to new standard packaging and declaration norms.

The Union Government under the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Amendment Rules 2012 has made it mandatory for a manufacturer to pack items in prescribed standard sizes only. The step had been taken to ensure price and quantity comparability of the products at the retail end, according to Government sources.

Products such as biscuits, baby food, bread, butter, coffee, tea, drinking water, milk powder, soft drink, weaning food, salt, edible oils, cereals, pulses, rice, wheat flour, cement and paints have come under the new rule.

According to industry sources, manufacturers in the organised sector have taken appropriate actions to comply with the standard size and labelling norm.

FMCG companies said that they began the preparatory work for compliance four months ago. The Government had extended the deadline for compliance from July 1 to November 1.

Chitranjan Dar, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC’s foods division, told Business Line, “We started the exercise a few months ago. One or two items which did not have standard quantities are also standardised as prescribed by the law.”

According to him, there was no need to tamper with the price of the products because of the new rule, “as there were variances of only two or three grams here and there”.

“Comparability is the main issue that has been stressed through these new norms. Manufacturers have been reducing quantity keeping the price unchanged,” said Edelweiss analyst Abneesh Roy.

According to the sources in the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the practice of non-standard pack, seen in recent months, have to be discontinued forthwith.

“Manufacturers cannot deviate from the prescribed standard size,” said a senior ministry official.

Under the new rules, the manufacturers no longer can use rubber stamp to declare month and year of manufacture and have to use standard value of weight, volume or number or length, breadth and thickness only.

Use of words like large, medium, XXL and L in garments to denote size are not allowed. It has to be in centimetres. Ice creams and similar frozen products should be sold by weight only.

Consumer goods companies have been reducing pack sizes while keeping prices constant. There were also instances of offering “extra” quantity at the same price. Under this new norm all these practices will have to stop, industry insiders said.

The rules have exempted lower unit price packs worth Re 1 to Rs 10.

Companies have to now compulsorily mention significant details on promotional offer packages and relaxations in weight for categories of bread, biscuits, baby food, beverages, edible oil, toilet soaps and packaged water.

According to Roy, many of the FMCG items are now available in less than Rs 10 packs.

“Our estimates suggest that around 75 per cent of the shampoo packs are sold in less than Rs 10 format,” Roy said.

The Hindu Business Line, Nov 01, 2012

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