Making grocery unit prices easier to notice and read

The small print sizes many businesses use to show the unit price (price per unit of measure) of pre-packaged grocery and similar products is a major problem in Australia and other countries.

To facilitate consideration of this important issue, a paper on it has been prepared by CFA executive committee member Ian Jarratt who is Consumers International’s representative on the ISO unit pricing committee and lead the successful national campaign for compulsory grocery unit pricing in Australia.

Small print size results in far too many unit prices on instore shelf labels and price signs and packages, and on-line and in advertisements being too difficult for consumers to notice and read which greatly reduces consumer awareness and use of unit pricing and in consumers getting much less value for money. It also results in less price based competition between businesses.

This problem exists, even though the provision of unit pricing is often required by law, mainly because much of the legislation is only principles based and/or there is inadequate monitoring and enforcement of compliance.

Ensuring that unit pricing is sufficiently prominent and legible for consumers is an extremely important issue for the Guidance Standard on Unit Pricing now being developed by the International Standard Organisation (ISO). It will be also for the 10 year review of Australia’s Unit Pricing Code that will be undertaken soon.

The paper consists mainly of 3 appendices.

Appendix 1 provides examples of requirements and recommendations for the print height for unit pricing on shelf labels and other instore signs, and on packages, in various countries.

Appendix 2 contains the report of an experiment conducted by the Queensland Consumers Association on the legibility and prominence of unit prices of different print heights on vertical and angled shelf labels located 20cms from the ground.

Appendix 3 contains minimum print heights for unit prices on vertical and angled shelf edge labels at different viewing distance from the floor proposed as an Annex for the ISO Guidance Standard by The European Consumer Voice in Standardisation (ANEC) and based on the German Standard for legibility DIN 1450 Lettering – Legibility.

Small print size is also a major problem with the display of much other information that can help consumers make informed choices. The paper may, therefore, have wider relevance.

For more information contact Ian Jarratt at

Ian Jarratt pictured in a supermarket with unit price labels in the background



An example of small print unit pricing