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Do you use unit pricing when shopping?

Unit pricing is an effective way to compare value between products being sold in different sized packages or loose. But do you use it other than in supermarkets, our guest author Ian Jarratt wants to know…

The UK requires all retailers, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores, to display the unit price (price per unit of measure) of most of the pre-packaged products they sell.

For example, the cost per kilogram of cheese in supermarkets, or the cost per litre of paint at a hardware store.

This was achieved thanks in part to Which?’s Price it Right campaign, which demanded supermarkets make clearer their pricing of items.

However, in some countries, including Australia where I live, only grocery retailers have to provide unit pricing.

Pricing power

Australia’s unit pricing laws are being reviewed and I and other consumer advocates want non-grocery retailers to be required to provide unit pricing for fixed measure pre-packaged products.

Almost all non-grocery retailers in Australia do not provide unit pricing voluntarily, so most consumers do not have experience of provision by non-grocery retailers.

And, I do not know of any research anywhere in the world on the provision and use of unit pricing at non-grocery retailers that we can refer to in our submissions.

So, it would be a great help to Australian consumers if you could tell me about your experiences with the unit pricing provided by non-grocery retailers in the UK.

We need your help

We know that most Australian consumers use unit pricing when provided in grocery stores, and many of the products sold there are also sold in non-grocery stores, for example shampoo, cosmetics and vitamins at chemists. And, in all non-grocery stores there are many pre-packaged products to choose from.

Therefore, I think there is a strong case for requiring non-grocery retailers to provide unit pricing for pre-packaged products in Australia.

So, can you help by sending in your views on its usefulness in the UK and your experiences with it?

For example, do you find it useful for comparing the value for money of the products they sell, and is it more useful for some products than others?

Comments

Unit pricing does highlight the excessive cost of branded products, when it is linked to the acceptability of alternatives. A good example is here – “Heinz vs supermarket tomato ketchup: our tests reveal which is tastiest.” Heinz 50p/100g, rated 80% in a taste test; Waitrose essentials 15p/100g, rated 78%. Why would you pay over 3 times as much for Heinz, and what extra value is worth that much more money?

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2022/03/heinz-vs-supermarket-tomato-ketchup-our-tests-reveal-which-is-tastiest/ – Which?

When I was much younger, I did some work in an egg packing station. The eggs were checked at one end for freshness with a light and then they rolled down a series of aisles, where they were weighed and diverted to large, medium and small trays. My job, as packer, was to intercept these eggs and put them into boxes of six. I seem to remember that I was part of the medium team and all the eggs in my tray were that size. Any cracked or leaking eggs were put into a bucket, shell and all, and later these were dealt with for the catering trade, though I didn’t ever get to see how.
I, too, have seen free range boxes with small stickers refining this into ‘Barn Eggs.’ There is scope here for a series of interpretations. What constitutes a barn? What is inside this? What space is available? What do these chickens get fed on? Is a Free Range chicken happier, more healthy for a run outside and fresh plant life?
This egg packing plant had incubator sheds full of golden fluff balls under warm lights. There was quite a distinctive smell in there. One of my other jobs was to travel round on the back of a tractor and provide water for the hen houses. Sadly, with the death of one of the owners, the farm side collapsed and they just packed imported eggs from elsewhere.