Bag (unit)

US Navy 050310-N-0411D-012 Builder Constructionman Will Robinson assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One (NMCB-1), prepares to empty a bag of cement into a cement mixer in Gonaives, Haiti.jpg

Bags have been used as standard measures for a variety of commodities which were actually supplied in bags or sacks. These include:

  • Cement is commonly sold in bags of 94 pounds weight, because this is about 1 cubic foot of powdered cement.[1]
  • Agricultural produce in England was sold in bags which varied in capacity depending on the place and the commodity. Examples include:
  • coffee = 60 kg
  • flour = 100 pounds
  • grapefruit = 40 pounds
  • rice = 100 pounds

The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition of "bag" as "A measure of quantity for produce, varying according to the nature of the commodity" and has quotations illustrating its use for hops in 1679, almonds in 1728 (where it is defined by weight as "about 3 Hundred Weight" i.e. 336 pounds (152 kg) in Imperial units) and potatoes in 1845 (where it is a volume measure of "three bushels" - i.e. 24 imperial gallons (110 L)).[4]


  1. ^ A. C. Houlsby (1990), Construction and Design of Cement Grouting, p. 69, ISBN 0471516295, The origin of the practice is fairly evidently attributable to the convenient happening that the loose volume of a 94-lb bag of cement is about 1 cu ft.
  2. ^ a b Peter J. Bowden (1990), The Agrarian History of England and Wales, Vol. 1, Economic Change: Prices, Wages, Profits and Rents, 1500-1750, Cambridge University Press, p. 311, ISBN 0521368847
  3. ^ National Agricultural Statistics Service (2013), "Weights and Measures", Agricultural Statistics (PDF), US Government Printing Office
  4. ^ "Bag, n: II, Specific uses; 6". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 27 March 2015.