Grocery unit prices

Big supermarkets and online food stores must display the total price as well as the price per unit of measurement for many items.

How unit pricing can help you

Unit pricing is a labelling system that helps you compare prices at the supermarket. By using standard units of measure you can easily compare the prices of products, regardless of their size or brand.

Unit pricing means you don‘t have to make complicated calculations to compare products and work out which one is better value but it’s important to note that some items are exempt from unit pricing.

Rules for grocery unit prices

Unit pricing is compulsory for large supermarkets and online grocery retailers. You may not see it in smaller shops however as it’s optional for smaller shops and stores that sell a small range of food or grocery items to display unit prices. Unit prices can appear as per 100 millilitres, litre, 100 grams or kilogram, or per item, depending on the type of product.

Most unit prices are based on standard units of measurement—per 100 millilitres, per 100 grams or per item. However, the unit price on some grocery items must use a different unit of measurement. These include fruits and vegetables (per kilogram or per item), meat, seafood and poultry (per kilogram or per item) and beverages (per litre).

How are grocery unit prices calculated?

Grocery unit prices are worked out to the nearest 1 cent, rounding up for 0.5 cents or more and down for 0.4 cents or less.

Comparing grocery unit prices

Look for unit prices on in-store shelf price labels and promotional signs and in newspaper and catalogue advertisements and online listings. Grocery retailers don’t have to put unit prices in TV, radio, or online video advertisements.

Example

  • laundry detergent X costs $7.62 for a 2.5 litre bottle. Its unit price is $3.05 per litre

  • laundry detergent Y costs $5.74 for a 1.5 litre bottle. Its unit price is $3.83 per litre.

The cheapest product is laundry detergent X.

Products exempt from unit prices

The following products do not have to carry unit prices:

  • exempt grocery items (see list below)
  • marked-down grocery items that are perishable or discontinued
  • marked-down items where the packaging is damaged
  • combinations of grocery items sold together for a single price, for example an offer enabling you to buy a packet of frozen potato chips and a separate packet of frozen fish fillets for a single price would not show a price per unit
  • promotions where items that differ in type or weight are offered at the same price
  • meals made by retail outlets for customers to eat immediately
  • items sold from vending machines.

Exempt grocery items

  • 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
  • furniture
  • hardware items
  • manchester
  • computer equipment
  • audio-visual equipment
  • telecommunications items or equipment
  • items for motor vehicle maintenance or repair
  • sports and camping equipment
  • toys
  • 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 rechargers
  • goods for hire
  • cigarettes and other tobacco products, including nicotine replacement products
  • alcoholic beverages
  • haberdashery
  • items sold from vending machines
  • meals prepared at the retail premises for immediate consumption.

Call the ACCC's unit pricing hotline

Contact the ACCC

More information

Prices & receipts
Grocery Inquiry 2008