The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reminding consumers that they can save money on food-based grocery products by comparing unit prices before they buy.
“Unit pricing is a labeling system that shows standard units of measurement to help consumers easily compare the prices of products, regardless of their size or brand. Savvy shoppers should look for unit pricing on shelf labels, display signs and in newspaper and catalogue advertisements,” ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.
Unit prices appear as per litre, kilogram, 100 millilitres, 100 grams, 10 grams or per item, depending on the type of product.
Most supermarkets and large grocery retailers are required to display unit pricing under the Unit Pricing Code, which was introduced in 2009.
“Consumers can easily save money by taking advantage of unit pricing. For example, this week the ACCC went shopping for several common grocery items – carrots, apples, bread, chicken breast, eggs, rice, milk and chocolate – and found that if consumers compare different brands and sizes, as well as pre-packaged and loose products, they could save around $250 each year on these products alone just by selecting the product with the lower unit price,” Ms Rickard said.
“This was a big saving for only a handful of products so think about the money you could save if you used unit pricing on a broader range of products for most of your grocery shopping throughout the year.”
While common grocery products must carry a unit price, some items are exempt such as perishable or discontinued products that have been marked-down, or particular items such as stationery. Unit pricing may also not be available in smaller stores or shops that sell a limited range of grocery products.
The ACCC has updated its guidance for consumers:
- Compare the unit price of different sizes of the same brand’s product, as well as products from different brands of the same product.
- Look out for special offers which might temporarily have the lowest unit price – but not always.
- The unit price of large packs is often lower than small or medium size packs. But avoid buying a bigger pack if it’s likely to go to waste.
- If a product is available loose or pre-packaged, check the unit price of both.
- The same product may be sold in different parts of the supermarket, for example, cheese, meats, seafood, nuts, fruit and vegetables. So, compare unit prices in different parts of the supermarket.