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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?


I would like to see a requirement to display unit prices for goods sold as multi-buys. Few retailers provide this information, but here is a photo that I took when I was in the highlands of Scotland over Christmas:

Sorry about the quality of the photo, but it shows that the price per litre is 48.5p per litre if you buy two bottles of milk, compared with 67p for one.

Congratulations to the Co-op. I must check to see if Co-ops in England do the same.

It is quite a few years since I bought fresh milk regularly except for the odd small carton for visitors so I haven’t taken much notice of carton sizes. But, I am slightly surprised to see the carton size as 4 pints, as I thought imperial measurements are a thing of the past.

So I have just had a quick look at supermarket own brand milk and it seems that they all sell their milk in pints.

You should have a look at the emotive Convos on metrication, Alfa. 🙁

I’ve seen bottles of organic milk in metric sizes, as is the UHT milk I keep for when I get back from holiday. I presume that the dairy-free alternative you use is the same.

At least with unit prices you can make price comparisons. My target price is 44p per litre, sold in bottles containing 2.272 litres. That’s what the village shop charges.

My previous comment was written hastily with little thought, as imperial measurements are still well in use, but I was very surprised to see Ocado as a relative newcomer to own-brands go for pints and not litres.

44p a litre?…….. I wish. Having tried many dairy-free milks, our preference is oat milk that doesn’t separate in tea and coffee at around £1.80 per litre and a cheaper one at £1.50 per litre for cereal. They are frequently on special offer when I stock up with about 4 months supply. I just wish they made 2 litre cartons.

Is it not a legislative requirement that milk must be available in one pint quantities even if other volumes are available? Beer in pubs is also regulated at one pint, half a pint and one third of a pint.

Tesco may still sell milk at £1 for 4 pints. That’s 44p a litre. I don’t particularly like their shops so pay £1.29 as a penalty elsewhere.

There was a discussion about how the big supermarkets have driven down prices to the detriment of the dairy farmer. The current (Feb 19) farmgate milk price is 29.28p/l which, on the face of it, seems to leave plenty of room for profit by the processor and retailer. But it would be interesting to know if the farmgate price is a fair one for dairy farmers.

Tesco charges about 48p per litre for this size.