Unit pricing code

Businesses need to comply with the Unit Pricing Code if they sell certain food-based grocery items. Grocery retailers are required to display a unit price so that consumers can make informed choices.

What is the Unit Pricing Code?

The Unit Pricing Code is a mandatory industry code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

A grocery retailer with more than 1000 square metres of floor space and who sells the minimum range of food-based grocery items must display a unit price when selling certain groceries to consumers. The minimum range of food-based grocery items is set out below.

The Code also applies to online retailers who sell the minimum range of food-based grocery items.

A grocery retailer who is subject to the Code must display a unit price for all grocery items – unless an item is exempt.

The unit prices are based on the most appropriate unit of measurement, which is found on the grocery item’s packaging:

  • volume (per 100 millilitres)
  • weight (per 100 grams)
  • length (per metre)
  • supplied by number of 40 or fewer items (per item)
  • supplied by number 41 or more items (per 100 items).

The Code contains a list of grocery items that require an alternative unit of measurement (see clause 11). For example, beverages must be displayed as ‘per litre’.

The unit price for a grocery item must be:

  • prominent – that is, it must stand out so that it is easily seen
  • in close proximity to the selling price for the grocery item
  • legible – it must not be difficult to read
  • unambiguous – the information must be accurate and its meaning must be clear.

The unit price must be displayed in dollars and whole cents.

What is the minimum range of food-based grocery items?

A grocery retailer sells the minimum range of food-based grocery items if they sell food-based grocery items from all of the following grocery categories:

a) bread
b) breakfast cereal
c) butter
d) eggs
e) flour
f) fresh fruit and vegetables
g) fresh milk
h) meat
i) rice
j) sugar
k) packaged food, other than food mentioned in (a) to (j).

What items are exempt from unit pricing?

Unit pricing is not required for certain grocery items. The Code contains a list of exempt grocery items.

Other grocery items which a retailer does not have to display unit prices include:

  • a bundle of different grocery items that are sold together (e.g. a soup kit consisting of carrots, potatoes, onions, split peas and stock)
  • when a selling price applies to more than one grocery item (e.g. a range of related grocery items – such as confectionery – may be sold at a single price, but each item may be a different weight or other measure)
  • those that have been marked down for any of the following reasons:
    • the packaging is damaged
    • the item is perishable
    • the item has been discontinued.

Items that are on special are still required to display a unit price.

Promotions of different items sold for a single price

Promotions of different items sold at a single price are exempt. For example, an offer where any one of a range of chocolate bars of different kinds and weights will be sold for $1.50. In this example, you are exempt from displaying a unit price.

Role of the ACCC in unit pricing

The ACCC provides guidance on the Unit Pricing Code and can take action to enforce the Code where appropriate

The ACCC cannot give legal advice or provide dispute resolution services.

Investigation process

When a complaint is received about an alleged breach of the Code or the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, the ACCC undertakes a preliminary assessment of the complaint. An initial discussion with the complainant may be necessary as part of this assessment. We will often recommend mediation as a first step where this may assist in achieving an outcome acceptable to both parties.

If the complaint is assessed as substantive, it is progressed to an ACCC enforcement officer. At this stage, further information and evidence will be sought from both parties.

The ACCC decides what action, if any, to take in response to a complaint in line with the agency’s Compliance and Enforcement policy.

More information

Grocery unit prices
ACCC industry code audits