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Unit Pricing - Grocery Unit Pricing - Consumer Survey by The Treasury

Here is our chance to have a say on Unit pricing.

Grocery Unit Pricing - Consumer Survey by The Treasury

"Overview
This Survey is being conducted as part of the Government’s review of the Grocery Unit Pricing Code.

Why We Are Consulting
The survey is designed to obtain information from the general public on: when and how you use unit prices, whether it saves you time and/or money, and well how unit prices are displayed."

{@BrendanMays @ajohnson - feel free to move this to a better thread if you feel it is more appropriate somewhere else.}

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Great job @meltam :+1:

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Great this has been picked up by @meltam.

Brendan, is there a back story to how and why this survey came about?
I wonder, where is the public advertising to promote the opportunity for comment from the greater public?

Cynicism abounds. Which headline will follow the 28th Feb?
Hopefully not, ‘ A recent government survey concerning unit pricing in supermarkets received a very low response which is consistent with the government’s view that the added cost and impost on supermarkets of unit pricing is no longer necessary’?

The more optomistic view is that someone has been listening and wants to make unit pricing work better for consumer benefit?

P.s. I have hit the survey full on. It only takes a few minutes to make a point.

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Hi everyone!

The survey is part of a 10 year review of the unit pricing legislation - the unit pricing legislation is due to sunset in a few months’ time so the government needs to do a couple of things:

  • decide whether to keep it (we think this is likely)
  • decide whether any changes need to be made

This is the first wide consumer consultation that has been conducted by Treasury.

For anyone that is preparing a response to the survey, the best place to raise issues is in question 10. In your response, you don’t have to address every point and you’re welcome to share your personal experiences. The more individual your response, the more likely it will be read and taken on board by the people looking at this survey.

Our guide for Question 10

Here are some pointers and ideas to think about when you get to Question 10. In your response, you don’t have to address every point and you’re welcome to share your personal experiences. The more individual your response, the more likely it will be read and taken on board by the people looking at this survey.

Unit pricing is inconsistent

Unit%20price%20is%20unclear%20250%20across

You might find variations in layout and presentation which make it difficult to scan for unit prices when you’re shopping: some canned foods show the unit prices for drained weight, while others use the total weight as a reference.

When you’re filling out question 10, think: What inconsistencies have I seen while shopping?

Labels aren’t always clear and visible

small%20unit%20pricing%20example%20with%20circle

The unit price shown here is far too small to see when you’re scanning supermarket shelves. Sometimes unit pricing uses colours, font sizes, language and placement that is difficult to see or interpret, and sometimes it’s missing altogether!

Last year, Aldi even went so far as to shrink its unit prices. What standards would you like to see introduced to make unit pricing more visible?

It’s not always easy to use unit pricing online

Unit%20Price%20Sorting%20Fail

A lack of clear, consistent unit pricing is a problem for those of us who shop for groceries online – you’re unable to see the physical products and compare their sizes.

Sometimes it’s also difficult to accurately sort groceries online according to unit prices. How could using unit pricing online be easier?

Unit pricing isn’t available where you shop

no%20unit%20pricing%20in%20pharmacies

Your local Woolworths and Coles have to comply with unit pricing but many smaller stores don’t, like this pharmacy. Do you want to see unit pricing in pharmacies, hardware stores and smaller groceries?

It’s hard to raise issues when you find them

woman%20looking%20at%20unit%20pricing%20signs

Like knowing whether you should speak up at the store or call head office. Would you like to see a simpler way to register complaints about unit pricing?

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Thanks @mark_m, much appreciated :+1:

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The online survey was mentioned in the Minister’s Media Release issued on 21 Nov which also said the closing date would be 18 Dec. It was also mentioned in another Media Release issued on 10 Dec. in which he announced that the closing date had been extended to 28 Feb. He did this after strong after objections from consumer organisations and the ALP (and media coverage) to the short consultation period and that it was just before the start of the holiday season.

The 10 Dec Media Release said that over 500 people had participated in the survey during the first 2 weeks.

I am not aware of any other govt publicity about the survey. However, the consumer movement has done some and some organisations have already encouraged members to complete the online survey.

It is great that Choice is now also doing this with its members and supporters.

PLEASE take this long overdue and much needed opportunity to have your say on unit pricing via the online survey. And, please use Question 10 to let the govt know that you want:
1. better and more grocery unit pricing, and
2. non-grocery retailers such as chemists (for non prescription items) and hardware stores to also have to provide unit pricing.

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I filled in the form before I posted the link, and here are my responses to questions 9 & 10, in case I have something that others might like to include:

Q9

  1. the UP tags are too small,
  2. in general the tag fonts are too small
  3. the labels below waist high or up higher than head height are too far away to read
  4. the labels are inconsistent in units of measure within one product line
  5. the UP is not always clear
  6. sometimes the UP price is in an even smaller font than the rest of the label - it needs to be the biggest font that will fit the info on the label
  7. the UP labels need to be a bright colour so they stand out from the general clutter of pricing labels
  8. sometimes items with ‘on sale’ tags have no UP on them

Q10

  1. The UP should be a LARGE font and with a consistent placement, like taking up the whole RHS half of the label.
  2. The bar code should be small as the scanners can still read them.
  3. The UP label should be a bright YELLOW so it is easily found, visible, and legible.
  4. Pricing and UP should not be placed at ankle or knee height, or above say 1.5m or 1.6m as the elder parts of the community can not read them there.
  5. UP needs to be consistent. The current variability of per each, per kg, and per 100g within one product line is useless. How do you compare easily across these units? With the last two you can move the decimal point, but how do you compare that to the per each for example tea bags, or items of fruit or veg?? Especially
    when there are no scales available or handy nearby.
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meltam. great points. In Q 10 I would also add:

  1. more grocery retailers should to have to provide unit pricing
  2. non-grocery retailers such as chemists (for non-prescription items) and hardware stores should also have to provide unit pricing.
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Thanks Ian. Yes I forgot to mention those things. Unfortunately there is no obvious way to add to/edit my response.

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Filled in the survey and added my frustrations associated with unit pricing. Main issues are font sizes of the labels, hidden behind label strips/brackets and also inconsistency of unit measure.

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Thanks for putting that together, that’s so useful to have your thoughts broken down in short points. Appreciate you spending some time supporting this important campaign!

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The Queensland Consumers Association released this statement on the government’s decision to extend unit pricing unchanged until 1 October 2021. What are your thoughts?

Federal govt’s decision on grocery price labelling disappoints consumers

The Queensland Consumers Association is disappointed with the Federal government’s decision to just extend unchanged until 1 October 2021 the regulation that requires large supermarkets to provide the unit price for prepackaged grocery products.

The current regulation, which has been in operation for 10 years, was due to expire on 1 October 2019.

The Association and other consumer organisations want changes to the regulation to increase its effectiveness, and to expand its scope to more grocery retailers and to other relevant retailers, such as chemists and hardware shops.

However, the government is just proposing that these be further considered in the review that started in November 2018.

The Association says that consumers, who have already had 10 years of substandard unit pricing, should not have to experience this for another 2 years.

Therefore, grocery retailers should take the current regulation’s requirements much more seriously and the ACCC should monitor and enforce compliance much more effectively and proactively.

The unit price is the price per unit of measure (such as per 100g for breakfast cereals or per litre for milk).

It can greatly assist shoppers to make informed choices, get the best value for money, help with cost/standard of living pressures, and save time.

Association spokesperson, Ian Jarratt - who led the campaign for compulsory grocery unit pricing - says “Unit pricing is a simple, but extremely powerful tool that, if provided well, can be the consumer’s best friend in the supermarket”.

However, far too often it is provided badly, for example a Choice national survey showed that 64% of consumers using grocery unit pricing had issues with how it is provided, especially

  • the use of small and non-bold print,
  • non and intermittent provision,
  • the use of incorrect or inconsistent units of measure, and
  • inaccurate unit prices.

Grocery retailers make sure that selling prices are very prominent and very legible, and are accurate, and say they are customer-focused and want to provide customers with value and convenience.

Therefore, as also required by the regulation, they should to do the same with unit prices by making them very easy for consumers to notice, read, understand and use.

Recent research by the Association shows that unit prices often vary greatly between brands and pack sizes and that there is great potential for consumers to use unit pricing to get better value.

For a basket of packaged products, choosing a low unit price brand of similar pack size resulted in overall savings of around 50% and changing brand pack size delivered overall savings of over 20%.

The savings that individual consumers can obtain from taking unit prices into account when shopping will vary greatly depending on what they buy now and where.

However, consumers spend around $100 billion a year on groceries alone and many households spend a substantial proportion of total income on groceries.

So, it would be very beneficial for many consumers if the quality of the grocery unit pricing required by the present regulation was greatly improved.

The benefits would be even greater if more grocery retailers and other types of retailers, such as chemists and hardware stores, also had to provide unit pricing for packaged products.

Note for editors

The instrument providing for the extension of the regulation to 1 October 2021 is available here https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2019L01217

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Hopefully this is the case… wonder if the eye was off the ball and that the entension is because they ran out of time to legislate it to become a permanent fixture in supermarkets.

In Australia, governments can quicly change regulations at any time, while both houses of parliament are required to change or enact legislation.

Hopefully the two years extension provides ample time for the government/parliament to ensure that unit pricing to be legislated as manditory.

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Having an expiry date like this allows it to expire in the future through government inaction or neglect or mischief, particularly if coupled with citizen inattention.

I didn’t advocate for any expansion of the current scheme. I did want it made permanent. After 10 years, I don’t think anyone can say that the current scheme is unworkable and it has shown itself to be substantially beneficial for consumers.

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My real answer is unprintable but suffice to say a failure yet again by our Govts to really address the issue properly and allow cowboy action at a store level with no real consistency to improvement but a consistency to fail the consumer.

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The current Federal Govt is in it’s third term.

It has had 6years leading up to the current decision to ensure that it had in place replacement legislation supported by the community. The expiry date has been known for ten years, so it is no surprise.

What should anyone think of a self evident and fundamental failure of any government to complete a task they have had six years to prepare for?

Political arrogance and total disrespect for all of the Australian community.

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Confirmation that this Government has once again decided NOT to make consumer protection a priority.

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Too busy with leadership coups, hung parliaments, minority governments - and other Canberra bubble stuff?

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While I do not want to appear to be a supporter of any of our major political parties, I should point out that most modern Commonwealth legislation has a sunset clause, while Acts often have a review requirement as well. This is part of the ‘getting rid of red tape’ drive, as well as ensuring that legislation is applicable to the current environment. (The latter is clearly more of an ideal than reality.)

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