/ Food & Drink, Shopping

A kilo of strawberries – or would you prefer a pound?

Punnets of strawberries

Asda’s experimenting with imperial measurements by selling strawberries by the pound. Is this something you’d like to see rolled out, or are weight measurements an entirely outdated concept when buying fruit and veg?

If you’ve been shopping in Asda in the past week you may have noticed something strange – the supermarket giant has started selling its strawberries in 1lb punnets.

If that sounds a little like a blast from the past, that’s because it is – this is the first time the shop’s used imperial measurements in over 10 years. The plan is to see if there’s enough shopper demand for the old system – and if so, it could be rolled out to other fruit and veg.

Having grown up with metric measurements, being presented with food weighed by the pound isn’t going to make my life any easier. A pound of sugar is about all I have to draw upon as a comparison tool, which isn’t going to help me when I want to buy a couple of apples or a bunch of grapes.

Is buying by weight going out of fashion?

I’d even take it a step further and say there’s a whole generation of us who don’t pay attention to weights at all when shopping. Most fruit and veg is pre-packed in supermarkets nowadays so we don’t have a clue what it weights.

Take many people to a market and they wouldn’t have a clue what their punnet of strawberries or shrink-wrapped broccoli equates to, grams or ounces. I tend to ask for ‘eight carrots’, ‘four onions’ or ‘a few handfuls of potatoes’ when I’m at my local farmer’s market – it works for me.

But, if Asda’s research is anything to go by, there’s plenty of demand to bring back the old system. It found that 70% of its shoppers were confused by metric and would prefer products to be labelled in pounds. And 20% even said the confusion was taking them longer to shop.

Metric devotees needn’t worry though – all packs are required to display metric weights by law, with imperial an optional extra. But, with so many confusing logos, lists and schemes already competing for space on our food labels is there really room for two different weight measurements as well?

Emily says:
6 June 2011

I’d definitely prefer a kilo of strawberries to a pound, as you’d get about twice as much! 🙂

Seriously though, I have no mental concept of how much a pound is – though I’m completely fine with kilos. That’s likely because I’m from Australia and in my 30s, so metric is all I’ve ever known!


Emily – I sympathise entirely with your point, but for the exact same reason I’d prefer a Pound. I’m only just 40 and was educated entirely in metric all through school from age 5, but until the late 80’s / early 90’s it was still UNcommon to find foodstuffs and medical things expressed in metric in the UK, so I have no concept whatever of what a kilo of strawberries looks or feels like, but I know exactly what a pound is.

For what it’s worth I think we have the whole metric / imperial problem in the UK simply because the government decided NOT to go metric in every aspect of life back in the early 70’s and then in recent years have tried to “finish the job” thus creating the same havoc we had in 1974 all over again.

michduncg says:
15 June 2011

Dave D

You are right to say that the Government in the 70s didn’t have the courage of its convictions. After recommendations from 1899 onwards that Britain should go metric, Britain decided in 1965 to accept the advice from the CBI to go metric in the interest of British industry. I was born in 1967, and have never been taught anything but metric. I have a great knowledge of imperial, that I have read myself but absolutely refuse to use it. Its rubbish, and certainly not something we need to burden our kids with. Yeah, an inch may be a nice size, but what happens when you want something smaller – try teaching kids today about eights or sixteenths!

As for visualising metric meaurements – well pretty much 1 Litre of any water like liquid is going to weigh a kilo, as is a bag of sugar. simples.

I am confused about your comments regarding metric in medicine not happening til the 1980s. I was on medication throughout the 70s and know that the doseage was 50mg from 1972 to 1980. I also clearly remember all medicine spoons being clearly marked 5ml.

At the end of the day, we were meant to go metric with the rest of the Commonwealth in the 1970s. They achieved it, we didn’t. Our future lies in international co-operation like we see in Airbus, BMW-Mini, Nissan, Honda etc. We need a metric conversant workforce and its a real waste of time to even get them bogged in Imperial twaddle.


No thanks. Tesco will manage to show the price per pound as higher than the price per kilo.


But that’s because Tesco are profiteering unmentionables, rather than because either weight measurement is inferior or superior ……….

pickle says:
7 June 2011

Being an oldie, I prefer the pound.In fact it makes little difference – you can see how much you are getting and for a single oerson a kilo of strawberries is too much to eat in one go – probably could manage a pound….
Which raises another point – single persons are faced with buying a lot of food in such large packs that they can eat only a pert and the rest goes to waste – we need smaller packs for single persons.


Absolutely agree PIckle, but my solution is not smaller packs for individuals but to say that we should have the option to buy the weight we want, weighed out at the point of sale, like we always used to in proper shops. This would also have the huge benefit of reducing packaging and waste which would mean that prices could be reduced (or held for longer) as the packaging won’t have to be bought by the suppliers / retailers.

Win all round!


I think item weights should be in both pounds and kilos.
Older people happier with the old imperial system would feel comfortable while younger metric thinkers won’t be inconvenienced.
But however we do it we do need a weight so we can compare this six apples with that six apples to be sure we’re getting fair value.

michduncg says:
15 June 2011

You seem to forget that the ‘older people’ of today, were 36 years younger when we went metric in 1975. They have had 36 years to adapt. There is absolutely no excuse why we need to drag this mess out any longer. A British Government lead the move to go metric in 1975 in the best interest of the country. Dual labelling makes the information difficult to read at a glance, and running two measurements system is a solution only Heath-Robinson would welcome.

John says:
8 June 2011

Most of us are used to Metric by now. Let’s stick with it and stick with the rest of Europe.
This action by Asda increases consumer confusion.


And what measure do the French, the inventors if the metric system, use for loose fruit and veg? livres!! (or pounds) which is equivalent to 500g (cf uk lb 454g).


buy fruit, veg, meat, etc, all from local markets/butchers. They have always used pounds and ounces.
Cheaper, fresher and better value for money.
Anyone who buys supermarket fruit, veg and meat wants their head read.


The barons who forced the Magna Carta knew the value of having one system of measure across the realm. That is still the case today. Having both metric and imperial units gives unscrupulous traders a field day for sneaking in price increases. When the UK went metric, it should have been done properly as was done in Australia and South Africa. Instead the British Government allowed the eurosceptic movement to hijack the use of imperial units as a “badge of honour”. All that is happening is that our school children are getting confused – they are taught metric at school, but people like Asda use imperial units. Unlike their parents, they are expected to use calculators, something that you cannot do easily using imperial units, so those who are promoting the continued use of the imperial system are doing our country a disservice by perpetuating the confusing that our school children are suffering.


Although I’m over 80, I’m not one of those Luddites who yearns for past imperial glory. Tje metric system is used almost universally, It’s time we stopped looking back and lived in the present, and that means ONE system of measurement, and it’s metric.Use the kilo- it’s a thousand times simpler.