Regulator acts to improve grocery unit pricing in the UK

person selecting produce from fridge in grocery store and holding a shopping basket in the foreground with assorted items

Recently, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has:

  • Called on grocery retailers to take action now to ensure that they are a
    complying with their legal obligations on the provision of unit pricing, and
  • Recommended numerous reforms to the unit pricing legislation including
    changes aimed at: improving the consistency of the units of measure used
    to show grocery unit prices; improving the legibility and display of unit
    prices; and clarifying the application of unit pricing to products sold on

These actions reflect the results of a CMA review of the grocery unit pricing provided by 11 supermarket chains and 7 variety retailers and which has resulted in the CMA being concerned about the adequacy of compliance with UK’s unit pricing legislation. The legislation requires certain grocery retailers to provide unit pricing instore, online and in some types of advertisements and regulates how it should be provided.

The CMA says both that “At a time when shoppers are looking for the most competitive deals, unit pricing provides critical information to ensure people can compare prices effectively,” and “We have made recommendations to government to address aspects of the rules that lead to inconsistency and uncertainty (for example, we recommend clarifying that retailers must display unit prices for products on promotion); we have published an open letter to all grocery retailers calling on them to ensure that they are complying with their obligations under the rules; and we have written directly to certain retailers to highlight specific non-compliance concerns (which we will monitor further in the next phase of our

The UK government has welcomed the CMA’s report and has committed to consulting on the unit pricing legislation.

Consumers Federation of Australia (CFA) Chair Gerard Body says, “Many of the problems with retailer provision of grocery unit pricing and with the unit pricing legislation identified by the CMA in the UK, also exist in Australia.”

“So, to assist consumers with the cost of living crisis and the high rate of grocery price inflation, the ACCC and the Federal Government should follow the UK’s example and take action now to substantially improve the quality of the unit pricing provided by Australian grocery retailers and to improve the Grocery Unit Pricing Code administered by the ACCC.”

The CMA report also emphasises that some weights and measures regulations, such as allowing some products (for example fruit and vegetables) to be sold by weight or by item, result in inconsistency in the units of measure used to show unit prices. Therefore, the CMA has also recommended that the weights and measures legislation also be updated during the review of the unit pricing legislation.

CFA says this is also a major problem in Australia and must be also be addressed here either as part of reform of the unit pricing legislation or during the measurement law reform process now underway in the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation.