Supermarkets and online retailers must comply with the Unit Pricing Code if they sell certain food-based grocery items. Unit pricing enables consumers to quickly compare products of different sizes and brands in order to work out which one offers the best value.
The Unit Pricing Code is a mandatory industry code under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. It applies to:
- grocery retailers with more than 1000 squares metres of floor space who sell the minimum range of food-based grocery items
- online retailers who sell the minimum range of food-based grocery items.
Smaller retailers who are not covered by the Code may choose to adopt unit pricing if they sell the minimum range of food-based grocery items. If a retailer opts in to unit pricing, they must comply with all of the Code's requirements.
The minimum range of food-based grocery items is set out below.
A retailer who is subject to the Code must display a unit price for all grocery items - unless the item is exempt. The unit price for a grocery item must be:
- prominent – that is, it must stand out so that it is easily seen
- legible – it must not be difficult to read
- unambiguous – the information must be accurate and its meaning clear
- in close proximity to the selling price for the grocery item.
The Code sets out the unit measurements that must be used for each kind of grocery item. Most products should be unit priced using the following forms of measurement:
- if sold by volume - per 100 millilitres
- if sold by weight - per 100 grams
- if sold by length - per metre
- if sold by number - per item for a pack of 40 or fewer items; or per 100 items for a pack of 41 or more items.
However, some grocery items must be unit priced using an alternative unit of measurement (see clause 11 of the Code). For example, fruit and vegetables, which are commonly sold by weight, must be displayed as per kilogram rather than 100 grams.
The unit price must be displayed in dollars and whole cents.
To be captured by the Code, a retailer must sell items from all of the following categories:
b) breakfast cereal
f) fresh fruit and vegetables
g) fresh milk
k) packaged food, other than food mentioned above.
The following grocery items are exempt from the requirements of the Code:
- books, magazines and stationery
- optical discs and magnetic storage devices used for computing, sound reproduction or video, whether or not they are pre-loaded with content
- photography items and equipment
- electrical items (other than batteries and light bulbs)
- garden tools, and items for garden or pool maintenance or decoration
- flowers, including fresh, dried and imitation flowers
- hardware items
- computer equipment
- audio-visual equipment
- telecommunications items or equipment
- items for motor vehicle maintenance or repair
- sports and camping equipment
- household appliances and kitchen and bathroom utensils
- clothing, jewellery and other fashion items (other than make-up)
- services, and goods supplied as part of providing a service, including mobile phone recharges
- goods for hire
- cigarettes and other tobacco products, including nicotine replacement products
- alcoholic beverages
- items sold from vending machines
- meals prepared at the retail premises for immediate consumption.
In general, unit prices must be displayed for items that are on special. This includes instances where two or more of the same items are offered together at a discount (e.g. four 500g cans of x brand tomato soup for $8.00).
However, a retailer does not have to display unit prices if:
- different grocery items are being sold together in a bundle (e.g. a soup kit consisting of carrots, potatoes, onions, split peas and stock)
- similar items of different sizes or weights are being sold at a single price (e.g. a range of different sized chocolate bars are sold for $2.00)
- the item has been marked down because:
- the packaging is damaged
- it is perishable
- it has been discontinued.
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.