Aldi vs Coles
We break down the key statistics of six products from the supermarkets shelves.
Have you ever wondered whether that 250 gram rump steak weighs less than what the label says? In some cases, you may be right.
Butchers and greengrocers are among the retailers with the highest failure rates when it comes to accurate measure and correct use of weighing instruments, according to the National Measurement Institute's (NMI) 2015-16 compliance report.
It shows 42 per cent of the 642 meat retail businesses and 50 per cent of the 332 fruit and vegetable retailers it audited were non-compliant with trade measurement law.
The NMI said it was prevented by the law from naming and shaming businesses.
The Australian Meat Industry Council, which represents butchers, didn't respond to Fairfax Media's request for comment.
Martin Clark, chief executive of NSW Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries, which runs the Your Local Greengrocer program, explained one of the compliance issues was linked with the growth in pre-packaged produce.
"We're seeing a rise in pre-packaged products, like apples, because they're convenient," he said.
"What's happening is the fruit and vegetables are correctly labelled when they're packed, but because they lose moisture over time, there's shrinkage, and that's causing the variation."
He said the industry was aware of the problem and working on fixing it, but "until it becomes perfect, there will be discrepancies".
To round out the top six, the other non-compliant businesses were fuel wholesale, seafood wholesale, precious metal and stone, and recycling.
Last financial year, NMI issued 2938 businesses with non-compliance notices, 186 with warning letters and 87 with fines totalling $85,100, which is slightly less than the 97 fines totalling $92,650 the previous year.
Greengrocers were issued eight fines - seven for short measure and one for illegal trading practices. Butchers received five - two for short measure and three for trading practices.
For the first time, NMI examined online grocery retailers, recognising the online shopping boom had resulted in "consumers [finding] it more difficult to interact with an organisation should they have issues with not receiving the correct measure of a product they have purchased".
It found shortfalls in 27 per cent of the 93 trial purchases, leading to two fines totalling $3550.
Online grocery retailer Aussie Farmers Direct said that it avoided short measure by adding a margin of error in the customer's favour.
"We give customers a pre-set measure, like a 200, 250 gram steak, and we set our weights so that if there's an error, the customer gets more," said spokesman Jim Cooper.
"I'm not sure about other retailers, but that's what we've done for many years and we've had very few complaints, particularly about weights being out of whack."
Overall, compliance has improved over the years, with 66 per cent of businesses fully compliant in an initial audit in 2015-16, up from 60 per cent the year before.
The product categories with the highest percentages of incorrect measurement labelling detected were beverage, bakery, landscape, and fruit and vegetable products.
And the product categories with the highest percentages of incorrect measure detected were smallgoods, such as salami, seafood, and fresh meat.
NMI has referred seven matters to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn said it shouldn't be so hard for businesses to accurately measure their products.
"In Moses' days they managed to get the scales right, it shouldn't be impossible in this day and age when there are so many digital measuring devices," he said.
"It's also important that we maintain a system where there's a clear weight or volume measure on the front of pack so that consumers can look at that and know what the size is."