Consumers welcome changes to federal review of grocery unit pricing

Consumer organizations have welcomed the federal government’s decision today to extend until 28 February the consultation period for the review of grocery unit pricing previously due to close on 18 December.

The Queensland Consumers Association (QCA), the Consumers Federation of Australia (the peak body of Australian consumer groups) and Choice had all asked for the extension because the short consultation period during the busy pre summer holiday period would have reduced the number and quality of consumer submissions to the review.

Unit pricing is the price per unit of measure (such as per 100g for breakfast cereals or per litre for milk) that very large supermarkets have to show on shelf labels for packaged grocery products.

Unit pricing is a very simple, but very powerful and popular tool that if provided well can greatly assist shoppers to make informed choices, get the best value for money, help with cost/standard of living pressures, and save shopping time.

Ian Jarratt from the QCA, and an executive member of CFA, lead the campaign for the start of compulsory grocery unit pricing in 2009.

Ian says this is the first time in 10 years than the unit pricing regulation has been reviewed.

So, it is essential that there is enough time for consumer organizations to prepare detailed submissions and for individual consumers to have their say about the current system, and what they want in future, by participating in the government’s online consumer survey available here:

Ian also says the review needs to fix the many problems with the current provision of unit prices by grocery retailers and look at the opportunities to get unit prices provided by smaller and specialty grocery retailers and by other types of retailers, such as hardware stores and chemists (for non-prescription items)

Consumers spend around $100 billion a year on groceries alone, and large amounts at chemists and hardware stores, so the benefits from having better and more unit pricing could be very large.