Australian consumer advocate, Ian Jarratt, says consumers benefit from unit pricing (pricing per unit of measure) on packaged grocery items.
Unit pricing makes it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about ‘value for money’, for example, to choose between cornflakes in cartons if:
480g of Brand A costs $7.60 per kg
775g of Brand A costs $7.10 per kg
500g of Brand B costs $6.40 per kg.
Unit prices are provided in addition to selling prices and help consumers overcome the confusion created by the ever-increasing number of package sizes, brands, products, types of packaging, and product forms on sale. Consumers who use unit prices can save significant amounts of money and time.
Since December 2009, large supermarkets in Australia must provide the unit price of most pre-packaged grocery items.
During the campaign I visited parts of the USA and Europe to study the diverse systems in use there to report on the best system for Australia. A copy of my report is available here.
I have discovered there are many places where existing compulsory and voluntary unit pricing systems are sub-standard and believe that consumer organisations there should be campaigning for improvements.
Some examples of sub-standard practices are: unit prices that are very difficult or even impossible to read; provision for only some sizes and brands within a product type; and use of more than one unit of measure within a product type.
A critically important standard is that unit prices on shelf edge labels should be very prominent and very easy to read - for example as displayed on the label from the USA in the photo of tinned salmon (above).
Consumer advocates currently involved in, or wanting more information about grocery unit pricing can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Currently, I am assisting consumer organisations in Canada (Option Consommateurs, Quebec) and New Zealand (Consumer NZ).