What is a Hundredweight (CWT)?

4 mins read
by Angel One

Hundredweight, also called the quintal or centum weight, is the Imperial British weight unit as well as the American customary unit. It is a valuation unit for certain commodities purchased or sold. Commodity contracts use this unit of measurement.

It has become more common to specify contracts in pounds or kilograms than in hundredweights. However, knowledge of hundredweights is essential when trading commodity futures for agri-related products.

As previously mentioned, the hundredweight is used in the British and U.S. imperial systems. However, the value of a hundredweight differs between American and British usage. One hundredweight is equal to 100 pounds in the United States, while the British unit of mass known as a hundredweight equates to 112 pounds.

One way to distinguish the two values is to refer to the American hundredweight as a “short hundredweight” while the British value is referred to as a “long hundredweight.” The short hundredweight is also referred to as a “cental.”

History of Hundredweight (CWT)

As early as the late Medieval era, mass was measured in hundredweights. It is believed that traders bought and sold goods like wax, sugar, and pepper in hundredweight. However, the precise weight at the time may have been 100 pounds or 108 pounds. In 1340, King Edward III allowed one stone to be equal to 14 pounds, making one hundredweight equal to eight stones or 112 pounds.

The Weights and Measures Act in 1824 established the British Imperial System by defining selected existing units precisely. In 1824, the Weights and Measures Act established one hundredweight at 112 pounds.

As a result, from 1824, it became illegal for British merchants to refer to a unit of 100 pounds as “one hundredweight,” and merchants were liable for fraud for doing so. After 1879, the measurement of 100 pounds became once again legal in Britain, but only if used as a “cental.”

Weights and measurements in the United States are based on the British Imperial System. An exception is the British stone of 14 pounds, which is not used in the United States, and the definition of a hundredweight differs between the two countries (100 pounds in the United States, 112 in Britain).

Examples of Hundredweight (CWT)

Most commonly, the hundredweight is used for trading large quantities of commodities. Additionally, it may be used to describe exceptionally heavy products, such as steel.

The hundredweight is used to measure certain food items like cattle, oil, seeds, and grains. It is also used to measure products sold in bulk, such as paper and some chemicals and additives.

Counting cattle by hundredweight

The price of cattle and other livestock is quoted using hundredweight, while other products such as coffee and sugar are expressed in cents per pound.

A hundredweight is a standard unit of measurement and trading for livestock and rice futures.

The weight of an anvil was typically stated in hundredweights, quarter-hundredweights, and pounds by using a decimal designation. Nevertheless, it is still possible to calculate anvil weight using the formula.

Calculating CWT

Listed below are the steps to calculate CWT for a particular commodity:

  • Determine the total weight in pounds of a commodity before calculating it in pounds.
  • According to Cavalier, the quantity in hundredweight is expressed by dividing this number by 100.
  • Let’s say you have 2,240 pounds of rice on hand. Divide 2,240 by 100, and you get 22.4 CWT.
  • The British or long hundredweight is calculated the same way, substituting 112 pounds. If you divide 2,240 pounds by 112, you will get 2,240 pounds in Imperial terms. This translates into 20 long CWT.

Converting Short CWT to Long CWT

You can use a two-stage process to convert short CWT used in the U.S. to long CWT used in the U.K.

  1. In order to come up with a weight in pounds, multiply short CWT by 100.
  2. Once you have a weight in pounds, divide it by 112 to get weight in pounds or long CWT.

For example, 22.4 short CWT equals 2,240 pounds. Dividing by 112 gives a result of 20 long CWT.

Can we still use hundredweights as a measurement?

The hundredweight generally lost popularity as the metric system became increasingly popular throughout Europe. With the introduction of the metric system, dealing in hundredweight became less prevalent. Due to the fact that British and North American definitions may be in conflict, it has not been famous for international trade.

However, it is still accepted as a unit of measurement, even if its use is less common than it once was. While most trade is conducted in pounds or kilograms, the hundredweight is still used within specific U.S. sectors, especially agricultural ones.