Online Shopping Variable Weight Items

Recently I’ve noted that Woolworths Online has started pricing items of fruit and vegetables that would normally be sold per kg, by units (per each). Example is a pumpkin @ $10.50 each, instead of $x per kg. Bananas and tomatoes are similar.

When I rang and asked for the reason I was told it was due to the rise in online shopping and saves time having to weigh items for orders. Given the variability of sizes for all of these items it amounts to variable customer pricing. One person may be paying $10 for a 3kg pumpkin and another the same amount for a 2 kg pumpkin, making a difference of about $1.75 per kg in what is paid. While I can understand that the online shopping area has been under huge pressure due to the pandemic I believe this is bad consumer service.


Woolies Modus Operandi.



If you watched ‘war on waste’, it is evident that the major supermarkets have very tight specifications (size, weight, colour, blemishes etc) on fresh fruit and vegetables they sell. They have done research over time and know the preferences an average customer has when they buy fruit and vegetables. They have tight specifications to reduce the waste in store with fruit/vege which doesn’t meet what would be seen as perfect to the average customer (while it reduces supermarket waste, it increases waste at the front end/farms). Having a more uniform product also allows affords better transport/handling/packing from farm to store and for in store displays (a display of shiny red apples of uniform size and colour looks better and a all sorts apple display - it is also more attractive to the customer and may encourage a purchase).

I have been looking at fruit and vege in a range of supermarkets (Coles, Woollies and IGA) and have noticed that they rather uniform when compared to an independent green grocer (which has its own farms and markets its own products through its own stores. The only different are the specific ranges sold which are marketed as being different.

You might find that the variation is very narrow (small percentages) rather than large variations. It is worth doing your own survey to see how the supermarkets manipulate what it sells, while natural variation that exists on the farm is non-existent.


Even in the groceries and F&V shops there are many examples such as a cauliflowers or a ‘bunch’ of asparagus or brocollini or kale, lettuce, etc. sold by ‘each’. It has probably been a l.o.n.g time since they were sold by weight though.

That also exempts them from informative unit pricing since a bunch of asparagus at $2 is unit priced at $2 each :expressionless:


In the last few months, Woolworths has removed the ability to easily compare or weigh fresh fruit and vegetables when grocery shopping online. Woolies only show cost-per-item and have removed weight and unit pricing. I searched ‘fresh apples’ on both Woolworths and Coles online shopping sites. Woolies Pink Lady apples are $0.86 each, Mi Apples are $1.03 each, Eny $0.70 each, Royal Gala $0.78 each. So which one is a better deal? You can’t tell because there is no unit price or approximate weight offered.

On Coles apples display an overall price, plus an approximate weight and disclose the unit price. Coles: $1.18 for approximately 200g of Pink Lady apples at $5.90 per kg; $0.81 for approx 180g of Modi apple at $4.50 per kg; $1.10 for approx 160g of Jazz apple at $6.90 per kg.

You can’t make a fully informed choice if you’re not fully informed.

Surprisingly, this is allowable by the ACCC unit pricing guidelines Unit Pricing Code | ACCC (page 8 of the PDF publication).

I’m not sure the ACCC considered online customers being unable to physically sight, touch or weigh the produce. Surely the principle of price-per-unit should only apply when there is only one variety of that item, like lemons, or figs, or pomegranates.

I’m sure people will say ‘support the local greengrocer then’ but online shopping has been a godsend for many people: those living with disability, older persons, and people with limited transport options. I do support my local greengrocer as well as online greengrocers.

This feels shonky, I can’t imagine how they thought this would benefit customers, I believe this is truly an attempt to make pricing unclear and increase profit. The most impacted will be the most vulnerable, people who have fewer options.

I bought two zucchini in my last shop. They were so tiny! Without approx weight, I can’t adequately budget and plan family menus. I complained and was refunded, but still, so shonky!


Hi @MeOhMy99, welcome to the community.

I have moved your post to and existing thread which raises the same point you have made.

I suspect not weighing every piece of fruit and vege is about efficiencies. Efficiency in processing orders etc

The pricing is also potentially based on average weight per piece. If you buy more than 1, it is possible that the average price per piece will be similar to the unit price.

Edit: the main challenge is knowing if a piece of fruit/vege at $X per piece is cheap or expensive when on is used to unit pricing of $/kg.


A random example of @MeOhMy99’s issue

Would that $0.70 each be a big or small banana?

More likely it is a programming ‘mistake’ (whether on purpose or not) approved by an over-employed manager.

I would give anything sold like that a miss.

@MeOhMy99, have you approached Woolies to ask about it either in store, through their web site, or on social media?

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Wouldn’t that apply to the web site too? The web site has no idea which specific loose produce items will ultimately be picked by the in-store picker. So any information that they could provide as to weight (and hence unit pricing) would at best be an estimate, an approximation, an average - and you can understand why a company would not like to state that as fact. Damned if they do. Damned if they don’t. ?

I think many consumers will want to order some specific number of apples, rather than ordering by weight, although if making an apple pie or apple crumble the recipe may call for a weight of apples.

That too.

No, I would say: buy in store then. But I understand that there are circumstances where online grocery shopping is the only option.

So I suppose you could put to Coles / Woolies: I want the option to purchase loose fruit / veges by weight - and I am prepared to pay $X extra for the picker to weight it all for me.

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Why should consumers accept or allow a business to sell product on other than weight?

Pricing by weight allows consumers to make informed choices about relative value, between choices of fruit/veg and choice of online retailers. There’s every opportunity for the retailer to manipulate the outcome to greater profit and little recourse for the purchaser if weight is not part of the description.

Worthwhile consumers seeking to change for a better outcome. Especially those who order online.

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I think most consumers would be interested to know if they needed 1 large apple or 2 or 3 snack sized ones for their hunger/use, notwithstanding relative value.


Wow, I’m surprised to see this happening back in 2021, I thought it had only changed in the last few months. Time flies when you’re… doing life :smiley:

I did give feedback to Woolies but never heard anything back.

The efficiencies perspective makes sense, especially in the context of ‘standard’ sizes. The problem is the inability to compare products. Typically I will buy a different apple variety based on the cheapest unit measurement. I’m left to assume that the one they have on special is the best deal.

There should be a compromise that empowers consumers (e.g. sharing the average weight with a proviso that your product may be slightly more or less) or a minimum weight requirement. Too much relying on Woolies to do the right thing. I wish I’d taken a photo of the teeny tiny zucchini they sent me last week.

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Coles does this by sharing a weight range estimate and I’ve never had a problem. In fact, I’ve never even checked if they’re weighing the produce, I just assumed they were. They could, in fact, be doing the same as Woolies, and charging their published per-unit price, and not weighing the produce, but because I feel informed and there is transparency on the website, it’s a better experience. I’ll have to check next time out of curiosity!

I do want to order a specific number of apples. But I want to choose the apple variety based on the lowest unit price.

Stating this is the price per unit AND offering the per-weight unit pricing is more transparent. Arm consumers with knowledge, because if you don’t, they’ll make up their own stories about why you’re withholding information.

I think online shopping is a boon for those who have mobility and/or anxiety issues. It’s given working parents back their weekends, and was a godsend during the pandemic.

Perhaps I do take it for granted. Equally, I’m sure Coles and Woolies enjoy additional loyalty from customers who would otherwise shop at Aldi or independent grocers if not for the ability to shop online.

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If the supermarket offers the option of purchasing by weight then no consumer is forced to accept not doing so. It’s an option. Order by weight if you want. Order by number if you want.

I don’t doubt that.

For two examples where order by number could make sense:

  • I have three kids, I need to pack three lunch boxes. No!, one triple-sized apple is not going to be the answer. I just want three apples.
  • The doctor told me that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. No!, one triple-sized apple every 3 days is not going to be the answer. I just want three apples.

In either case, yes, you can cut the apple into three pieces. In either case, it will go brown. In the second case, the apple won’t be at its freshest by Day 3.

Per-weight unit pricing is not more transparent if that’s not how the price is being calculated. It would be crucial to know how the price is being calculated before saying what is transparent and what is not.

It is … but I won’t be doing it until I have to. I like to select my own apples. :wink:

A question not posed and perhaps not relevant to us buying products is whether the grocers buy their stock ‘per each’ or by weight. No need to answer as it would defy imagination if they bought their [apples etc] per each from the producers. If the producers could demand per each contracts the grocers would likely go into apoplectic fits in indignation and why it should not and would not be on.

The per each for f&v, as with the ‘e’ weighted products where the products anecdotally seem to come up short more often than over, the consumer is rarely going to be the winner.


Such an observation is not to be wondered at, of course they do, confirmation bias is ubiquitous unless carefully controlled.

In a somewhat similar vein some scratch their heads about why fruit bins (especially on per each fruits) seem to contain mainly smaller and discoloured fruit once they get down below a quarter full. Obviously the staff are hiding the inferior fruit underneath.

There are a few ways to buy most f&v at the markets and includes bulk in crates, prepackaged in boxes such as pre packed carrots in box lots (usually a given weight per box), in trays in boxes (usually based on a count for a size), in trays e.g. mangoes, in boxes or bags by the weight such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes (e.g. 2 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg).

Each grocer will be looking for the best value that will provide best profit from price paid and so may vary in what quantity and container they buy the products in. This could vary each trip they make depending on the quantity, quality, and price they are willing to pay for on any given day.


Would Colesworths do that? Or do they have large scale contracts based on weight or volume, not per each. Imagine them sourcing [potatoes] and agreeing to pay by the potato. Could you?

They regularly offer trays of vine ripened tomatoes, as you indicated are sold by a weight (or e weight), 500-ish g being common, not per X tomatoes even if that is how the trays are configured.

4 tomatoes are 500g, not ‘4’ per. Would they source a 500g tray or would they source 4 tomatoes?


A different scale than a local F&V shop.

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They have both farm gate contracts and buy from agents at the markets. I know from our old banana contracts.

The point I thought we had in play was them buying per weight/volume or per each. Ever see an F&V buyer go for N number of [bananas] rather than weights for the contract? I need 4,000 bananas please? How much? OK. If you did I yield the point.


Lol ok but they did buy X amount of kilos of certain sizings so they had a fairly good idea of the number of bananas in that purchase. Coles and Woolies tend to buy the smaller fruit (talking bananas here), the large fruit is at premium prices but the small stuff can sometimes be even below production costs (often at that price we would feed them to the cattle instead). Others sell just to recover some costs of production and make up on the premium priced product that isn’t typically sold in supermarkets or usual green grocers. Most of the dealings we had were with Lamana, who are ripeners and agents. The premium product often ends up in high class restaurants or sold overseas.

Farm gate contracts that are packed at farm can be based purely on numbers of items e.g. the tomatoes in a 4 pack.

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