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How easy is it to use unit pricing in the supermarket?



“My main gripe with these on line stores is that a search for a particular type of product can often produce a list that also includes other products.”
I find this is an issue particularly for the Woolworths App. Searching by keywords gets you a list of vaguely related products, with some randoms for good measure (eg search for golden syrup and get any product with Golden in the name). I also find it is an issue figuring out into which of the categories the product might belong, making limiting the search more difficult.
I think the unit pricing online should be in the same size font as the listed price.That might help…


Thanks for your interesting and helpful comment kaedhlin.

I agree completely with your gripe about the quality of the product search facility on some on line store sites. And I know of some overseas sites which do not have a sort by unit price facility.

So, I am very concerned about the ability of consumers to effectively use unit prices when shopping for food and groceries on line especially if there is not a high quality search facility for specific products, and/or a facility to sort by unit price (lowest to highest and preferably also highest to lowest), and if the unit prices are not very easy to notice and read,

I am hoping to get some university researchers interested in these online unit pricing issues.Your comments will help me to do this.


Thanks zackari. Tea bags and similar products are a real challenge for the design and implementation of unit pricing systems/rules.

This is because the packs normally only show the number of bags and the total weight of the pack - not the weight per bag.

So at the moment really the only unit price for the pack that can be provided by the retailer is either per 100g or per unit of count.

Per 100g facilitates comparisons with the cost of loose tea and between tea bags but might not be useful if consumers consider tea bags to be a quite different product to loose tea and also think of quantity mainly in terms of number of bags

If it is provided in terms of count, the Code requires that, if most packs contain more than 40 items, all packs must be unit priced per 100 bags. This largely overcomes the problem you mention (caused by rounding) if per bag is the unit used.

Unit pricing per 100 bags means that differences in weight per bag have to be taken separately into account when choosing between different bags, So in effect it becomes a quality factor that together with the unit price may be taken into account when choosing what to buy.

I’d like more research done on what approach consumers prefer not only for tea bags but also for the many other products that could be unit priced by weight/volume or by count.


The supermarket where I saw tea bags had most of them as single units, which I thought was a waste of ink, and some in 100g / kg. At least tea bags usually come in a standard 100 to a pack with 50 or 200 being the other sizes, but shows the Code is not well understood / implemented.

I find unit pricing more advantageous where there are confusing packaging sizes. Comparing the same product content across cans of 100g, 485g, etc. I read the label where I suspect the content (eg veg, beans) might be less in some brands and do my own mental calculations. This is where, for example, baked bean content might be 43% in one and 69% in another where I am buying for the beans, not the sauce. Putting that into unit pricing will be too difficult, and this information is not always available from the manufacturer.


Almost like buying Dark Chocolate. I am a Dark Chocolate keen imbiber and often find in the blocks that just say Dark Chocolate one block maybe 40% another 45% and yet another 50% Cocoa mass, oh for a base standard about when the term Dark Chocolate could be used. In the end I generally just buy any block that has > 70% and forgo the interesting flavours such as Rum & Raisin. Baah Humbug


Thanks for the comment graholl. This is another good example of the need for consumers to sometimes go further that the unit price per unit of weight of total product when assessing the value for money of different types of some products. I know it’s extra work to have to calculate the unit price of cocoa mass but having the unit price per unit of total weight does make that calculation/comparison easier than not having any unit price.


I made a rare visit to Big W - looking at their food aisles - no unit prices. Nothing on tea, chocolate, soups, confectionery etc. Is Unit Pricing something only for supermarkets over 1,000m2? I haven’t been to any of the “cheap shops” to see if Unit Pricing is used there - places like Reject Shop, Sammy’s, Kong, Crazy Prices - who sell food items.


This tells all…


Thanks for that @TheBBG it answered my question. Because they don’t sell the full range of food stuff (eggs, milk, butter, fresh fruit & veg etc) they are exempt. However it would be helpful to me, as a consumer, to be able to compare using unit pricing.


Not just olive oil, any and all bottled products (eg, beverages, lubricants, pesticides), should follow the same rules. The common sizes you list are fine. I just detest seeing 95ml, 235 ml, 470 ml, etc sizes alongside other more-rationally volumed bottles. Disclaimer: I am not saying that the above sizes should be the mandated ones, just using them as examples.


And when I open a 440 g can of beetroot I hope to find mostly beetroot not liquid, but I have found a lot where it is 50% or less beetroot. I am sure there are other vegetables and fruits that are less the material and more the liquid.


Meats too! I bought some name branded diced chicken that was ~20% water! I complained and it certainly went into the bin because the water is apparently required to keep diced chicken moist and fresh. It was not like the water laden chicken was priced differently to the deli-case chicken :expressionless: I got a once off “for my concerns” but nothing changed about the way the product was packaged or weighed or priced.

“The law” might serve us well if it mandated showing the net weight of product, not the gross weight with “the water”.

FWIW when I relocated to Australia I was and remain amazed how much liquid is tolerated in meats. It is a common problem for us that meats get boiled from the excess water as it builds up, not fried, unless we use a grill pan or BBQ or keep draining the liquids whilst cooking. I would not be surprised if one of the “production steps” involves significant “extra” water injection to make meats plump and juicy looking.


That and the sulphur dioxide to keep it looking red and fresh.


Like I pointed out with the tea bags earlier, I came across another puzzling situation that asks more questions than it answers.
Boxed cans of soft drink. In Coles at least their unit of measurement is litres. There’s a box of say 24 coke for $19.80. What I need to know, and I’m sure everybody else, is what the price is per can.


Inconsistency possibly the only issue for me.

Examples are they might show $/100gm on some products and they $/kg for the same items by a different manufacturuer. First glance it may appear the unit pricing or $/100gm is cheaper until one has to multiply/divide by 10 for comparison purposes.

The code should be modified that all items within a store for the same type of product should have the consistent unit labeling. E.g. all $/100gm, $/L, $/100 sheets or $/100 teabags.


Whether to unit price per each or per unit of weight/volume or both? That is the question!!!

As I said in a previous post, "I’d like more research done on what approach consumers prefer not only for tea bags but also for the many other products that could be unit priced by weight/volume or by count."

Maybe when everyone has had a chance to fill in the questionnaire in my recent post HOW DO YOU USE UNIT PRICING IN SUPERMARKETS? I’ll ask for opinions on the unit price per each or per unit of weight issue?

Regarding cans of soft drinks (boxed or single) the Code requires that they be unit priced per litre. The obvious advantage of this is that it is very easy to compare the cost with these products in other package sizes and package types e.g. bottles. Unit pricing per can does not facilitate this.

The Code does not seem to ban the provision of an additional unit price using a different measurement unit. However, it does require that the unit price be “unambiguous”.

It is quite common for catalogues and store special offer price signs to show the unit price per litre and per can for soft drinks, and the price per can is always much more prominent than the price per litre.


I agree. Inconsistency in the measurement-unit used to indicate the unit price of different packs of the same product is major obstacle to greater consumer use of unit pricing.

The Code administered by the ACCC does require consistency in the measurement-unit used for unit prices within a product category. So if you spot inconsistencies report them to the ACCC ph 1300 302 502.

However, also be aware that it is not clear whether for example the ACCC regards bags of tea, coffee etc as different products than the same products in other types of packaging and thus OK to unit price per bag or 100 bags NOT per 100g as would otherwise be required by the Code.

Also,be aware that trade measurement laws allow many fruits and vegetables, and some other products, to be sold on a per piece basis or by weight and for packages containing these products to be marked with the number or the weight.


I need the price per litre when I am comparing a box of cans of one size and another box of cans of a different size and several bottles of different sizes.
At least with a can of drink you can drink part of it now and part later, or share a can between two people.
Not the same situation as teabags- no one use 1.3 bags to make a cup of tea or 0.75 of a bag to make a cup of tea. When there are teabags with different weights of tea leaves in them the person alters the time that a whole teabag is in the hot water - often judging that time by colour.


Not the same situation as teabags- no one use 1.3 bags to make a cup of tea or 0.75 of a bag to make a cup of tea.
Wrong! I have friends who like weak tea (why do they bother?) so I re-use the teabag for the next cup. Just call me prudent (ie, cheap).


You are altering the time that a whole teabag is in the hot water, often judging that time by colour - yes or no?