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Continued development of NMI’s risk assessment processes has meant a concentration of compliance activity in areas with a greater likelihood of breaches being found.

In 2017-18, NMI’s trade measurement inspectors:

  • audited just under 9,500 business premises (includes initial and follow-up audits)
  • tested just under 15,000 measuring instruments
  • inspected over 950 weighbridges
  • inspected over 71,700 lines of packaged goods (over 271,000 individual packages) for correct measure and measurement labelling.
Year Trader audits Measuring instruments Weighbridges Packaged lines Individual packages
2015-16 10,123 15,240 960 80,163 319,616
2016-17 10,239 17,093 1147 87,964 355,438
2017-18 9460 14,906 965 71,733 271,243


Non-compliance can take many forms, from inappropriate measurement practices (eg: not excluding the weight of packaging in over the counter transactions) and measurement labels that do not meet regulatory requirements, to short measure in packaged goods, and using measuring instruments that are unapproved or inaccurate.

Not all instances of non-compliance necessarily affect the integrity of measurement-based transactions. Where measurement errors are found they are usually relatively minor and large errors are quite rare. However, even minor measurement errors can have a significant impact on competition and consumer detriment when considered in aggregate.

65 per cent of 7283 traders were found to be fully compliant in an initial audit in 2017–18, a similar proportion to 2016 –17.

Trade measurement inspectors make follow-up visits where non-compliance has been identified in an initial audit. Reflecting that most businesses are keen to do the right thing and promptly rectify trade measurement breaches once they are made aware of them, 81 per cent of 2177 traders were found to be fully compliant in follow-up audits. This equates to around 94 per cent of all businesses inspected found to be complying with the law after follow-up audits undertaken where necessary.

Year Initial audits Initial non-compliance Follow-up audits Follow-up non-compliance Estimated final non-compliance
2015-16 7634 2558 (34%) 2489 380 (15%) 5.0%
2016-17 7955 2740 (34%) 2284 372 (16%) 4.7%
2017-18 7283 2542 (35%) 2177 409 (19%) 5.6%


While much non-compliance is relatively minor and usually quickly addressed when identified by trade measurement inspectors, trader types with the greatest proportion of non-compliant businesses in 2017-18 included:

  • fruit and vegetables retail
  • seafood retail
  • meat retail
  • importer
  • supermarket.

Australia’s trade measurement laws require that measuring instruments used for trade are of an approved type, have been verified by a licensed technician before use, and are accurate at all times while in use. NMI authorises servicing licensees to undertake verifications.

Although 6 per cent of almost 15,000 measuring instruments tested were found to be measuring inaccurately, 3.7 per cent of instruments were actually inaccurate in consumer’s favour, whereas 2.3 per cent were inaccurate to consumer disadvantage.

In 2017-18, instrument categories with the greatest proportion of instruments tested found to be inaccurate to consumer disadvantage included:

  • weighbridges – almost 1000 weighbridges were tested, with 6 per cent inaccurate to consumer detriment
  • retail fuel dispensers (petrol and diesel) – over 1900 tested, with almost 5 per cent measuring to the consumer’s detriment
  • weighing instruments (30 kg to 3 tonnes) – almost 350 tested and just over 5 per cent to consumer detriment
  • beverage dispensers – over 1100 were tested, with just over 3 per cent measuring to consumer detriment – a big improvement on more than 6.5 per cent in 2016-17.

As with other aspects of trade measurement, most packaged goods give the right measure. While most discrepancies were usually relatively small, just over 5 per cent of the 71,700 lines of packaged goods tested in 2017-18 were found to contain less product than stated on the label. Packaged goods with the greatest proportion of incorrect measure in 2017-18 included:

  • fuel (solid)
  • farm supplies
  • seafood (frozen)
  • meat (processed)
  • chemicals (industrial)
  • meat (fresh)
  • seafood (fresh)

Further details on compliance and enforcement activity and outcomes in 2017-18, are provided below.

The results outlined in this report were used in developing NMI’s inspection priorities for trade measurement compliance activity in 2018-19.

View the 2018-19 National Compliance Plan.