India May Allow New Package Sizes

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Posted on: 9 Jul 2012

The Government of India (GOI) has mandated standard retail package sizes for foods and beverages effective November 1, 2012.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary Public - Date: 6/27/2012 GAIN Report Number: IN2085 India Post: New Delhi India May Allow New Package Sizes Report Categories: FAIRS Subject Report Policy and Program Announcements Retail Foods Trade Policy Monitoring Sanitary/Phytosanitary/Food Safety Beverages Coffee Dairy and Products Exporter Guide Approved By: Allan Mustard Prepared By: Ritambhara Singh Report Highlights: The Government of India (GOI) has mandated standard retail package sizes for foods and beverages effective November 1, 2012. Package sizes at price points below 10 rupees (approximately 18 cents at the current exchange rate) need not be labeled as deviating from this mandate. Package sizes deviating from the standard and selling at price points above 10 rupees will be permitted only if the manufacturer or importer formally requests the Government of India (GOI) to grant a waiver and submits a justification for introducing a different pack size. Such packaging will have to be labeled as deviating from the standard size. Such waivers will be valid for no more than one year; however, if justified, the package size specified in the waiver may be added to the list of standard sizes. General Information: The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, which implement the Legal Metrology Act (LMA), 2009, establish uniform standards of weight and measures, and regulate trade in goods sold/distributed by weight, measure or number. On June 5, 2012, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, issued notification G.S.R. 426 (E), amending the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, which stipulates “the proviso to the rule 5 shall be omitted from November 2012.” As a result, from November 1, 2012, the commodities listed under schedule II (also amended via notification G.S.R 427 (E) on June 5, 2012) of the rules will have to be packed for sale, distribution or delivery in standard quantities as specified in that schedule, but will not require the declaration „not a standard pack size under the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011’ or „non standard size under the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011’, on the packages. Therefore, with the deletion of the proviso to rule 5, India will have only standard sizes for packaging foods and beverages. Previously, the deleted language to the proviso was to have come into effect as of July 2012 (amendment to the rules via GSR 784, see GAIN report IN2038). Various trade bodies expressed their concerns regarding GSR 784 (see GAIN report IN2046). As a result, on June 5, 2012, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs amended the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) rules, 2011, via notification number GSR 426 (E), and postponing the effective date for standard packaging size to November 1, 2012 (see GAIN report IN2077). The notification neither specifies a comment period for stakeholders (domestic or trading partners), nor has been notified to the World Trade Organization. Trade concern: As the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia do not impose specific standards for packaging size, if India proceeds with the adoption of standard packaging size requirement, imported products would likely come under increased scrutiny by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. This could potentially have a negative effect on trade. However, a senior official from the DCA said that the ministry‟s decision to switch back to standard pack size will not hamper trade. According to this official, as of November 1, 2012, the commodities listed under Schedule II (also amended via notification G.S.R 427 (E) on June 5, 2012) of the rules will have to be packed for sale, distribution or delivery in standard quantities as specified in that schedule, but will not require the declaration „not a standard pack size under the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011’ or „non standard size under the Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011’ on the packages. The government has further amended the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, via notification number 427 (E), providing the manufacturer or importer the option of introducing “value based” packs priced at Indian National Rupee (INR) 1 to INR 10, of any weight. If the manufacturer or the importer wants to introduce a product in any other size (beyond what is given in schedule II and beyond value based packages), she or he is required to submit a request to the Government of India (GOI) specifying the needs-based criteria for introducing a new package size. The GOI advised that after assessment the genuineness of a case stated in the application, it will permit a manufacturer or packer or importer to pack or sell the packages in sizes other than those specified in Schedule II for a maximum of one year by relaxing the rules. The GOI may introduce the new size as standard size within that one year period or subsequently. The GOI advises that it is aware of the trade concerns of India‟s trading partners and offers assurance that the government will not let the development hamper trade with other countries, but rather will take every possible measure to tackle the issue (see GAIN report IN2078). Any concerns may be reported to: Mr. B. N. Dixit Director, Legal Metrology Room No 461-A, Krishi Bhawan Department of Consumer Affairs Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution New Delhi-110 001 Ph: +91 11 23389489 (O), Fax: +91 23385322 Email: dirwm-ca@nic.in
Posted: 09 July 2012

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