The government has confirmed that a consultation will be launched on Friday that could pave the way for greater use of imperial measurements in Britain after Brexit.
According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), plans to revise “presumptuous EU rules” will restore “common sense” in the code.
The EU Weights and Measures Directive came into force in 2000, requiring traders by law to use metric units for sales by weight or measure of fresh produce.
It remains legal to price goods in pounds and ounces, but they must be displayed next to the price in grams and kilograms, except in limited circumstances.
The 12-week consultation will look at how these provisions can be changed, giving traders more freedom to choose how they price fresh items.
It will help the government, for example, consider selling vegetables in pounds only, or in pounds with a less prominent metric equivalent.
BEIS said this will help inform plans for legislation to give companies more choice about the units they use.
The department maintained that the move would not incur any additional costs for companies, as it was not intended to oblige them to make a change.
Various stakeholders are invited to contribute to the consultation, including businesses, industry associations, enforcement authorities and consumer organisations.
The government announced in September last year its intention to overhaul imperial measurement rules as part of a series of post-Brexit regulatory reforms.
Commerce Secretary Paul Scully said: “While we think of our fruit and vegetables by the pound, the legacy of EU rules means we have to legally sell them by the pound.
“Our consultation today will help stores serve customers the way their customers want them to.”
The move has been criticized, with Tory peer and supermarket boss Lord Rose of Monewden claiming the idea of returning to imperial measures and weights is “complete and utter nonsense” and would “add costs” to those making the transition.
Asda’s chairman said on Thursday the change would please only “a small minority who are listening to the past”.
New government guidelines released on Friday will also help companies adopt the crown symbol on pint glasses, in what BEIS says will serve as a “tribute” to the Queen’s platinum anniversary.
British pint glasses intended for measuring and serving beer used to be marked with a crown stamp to certify that the size was accurate.
But when an EU directive was implemented in 2006, they had to display an EU-wide “CE” mark to demonstrate compliance with UK union regulations.
Glasses that already bore the crown stamp did not have to be withdrawn from circulation, and glasses with the EU-wide marking were technically allowed to wear the crown, as long as the new symbol was not obscured.
From 2023, eyewear placed on the market in England, Scotland and Wales must bear the new UKCA marking to demonstrate compliance with legal requirements.
Companies can decide whether to apply the crown symbol, which would be purely decorative.
Scully said: “This Platinum Anniversary weekend, we are toasting Her Majesty The Queen’s health and service to this country.
“It is a fitting tribute that we are now helping companies restore the Crown symbol on pint glasses.”