Glossary Item

Net Contents Control


Achieving tight net content control is a hidden source of untapped profits for many food and beverage processors. Whether the declaration is by weight, volume, count or a combination, you need to comply with the regulations of every jurisdiction where your product is sold.  But if you over pack to ensure compliance, you are giving away free product.

How much profit is involved? For a quick calculation, take your raw material costs and multiple by give away percentage. This does not consider many of the true costs, but gives you a minimum. It is not unusual for giveaway to be in the 20% range. It is also not unusual for it to be controlled to 3% or better. QIC has a white paper called "Show Me the Savings" that recounts the real experience of one of our clients.

It is not unusual for your people to be unaware of all the regulations. In many companies, net contents control is either not done, or is done the "way we have always done it". "Over Pack" or "Give Away" is considered a cost of doing business.

The traditional approach has been to shift the curve - pack to a target that is substantially more than declared so that the probability of a package being a MAV (Maximum Allowable Variance in the US) or UGA (Under Government Allowance in Canada) is so small that we "must be in compliance".

With globalization and intense offshore competition, accelerating price erosion combined with rising ingredient costs, this is no longer a viable approach in the medium to long term.  You need to substantially bolster your brand loyalty, or reduce your give away - most probably both. The preferred approach is to tighten the process so that the target can approach label, while still allowing the same probability.

If you do not have a net contents control system, the first fine may change the way you pack!  Rumour has it that there are some jurisdictions where a large proportion of government revenue is from fines to food processors for underweight product.  If you consider over pack a cost of doing business - do the calculation again.  If your people are not up to date on the regulations Ė donít worry, QIC has helped some of our largest food manufacturers educate their people on FDA, USDA, CFIA and MC regulations.

If you sell your product internationally, you need to be concerned about the regulations in every country you ship to.  Compliance to US FDA does not assure compliance with CFIA, MC or EU regulations. Even within the US, compliance with FDA does not assure compliance with USDA regs. Although there are reasonably definitive lines as to what products fall under what regulations, with creative new products, it is not unusual for both regulations to apply to certain plants, or particular lines.

And if your company is called to prove compliance, you need to document:

* That your lot complied with the regulation

* That you adequately sampled the lot

* That you ensured that your test equipment was properly calibrated

* That any non compliance was dealt with and eliminated

* That the data has not been manipulated after the fact

Fail on any of these criteria and you may be facing large financial and public relations penalties.

QIC can help:

* We know net contents - our specialists have literally written the book on it

* We can help you set up your business practices to ensure compliance in any jurisdiction

* We can provide systems that will ensure that your operators perform the correct tests at the correct time and take the appropriate action

* Whether you use in line check weighers, offline balances or a combination, we can provide solutions

* With Real Time Performance Management systems, you can know of a process shift or non-compliance the instant it happens - not after you have pallets of potentially non-compliant product waiting for release

Learn more...

To discuss your needs, contact us at

This page last updated: 02/20/2012