Checking and comparing unit prices on supermarket shelf labels or online can help you save money when grocery shopping.
Large grocery stores and some online grocery retailers must display the unit price and the unit of measurement of a grocery item alongside its selling price on the shelf label for the item (unless the item is exempt).
Unit pricing is a labelling system that helps you to compare prices and find the best value for money when buying groceries.
By using standard units of measurement you can easily compare the prices of products, regardless of their size, brand or the way they are packaged or sold.
Unit pricing means you don’t have to make complicated calculations to work out which product offers you the best value.
Most supermarkets and large grocery stores are required to display unit pricing.
Online retailers that sell a wide range of food items are also required to display unit pricing.
You may not find unit pricing in smaller stores or online stores that sell a limited range of grocery items.
You should find unit prices on in-store shelf price labels and promotional signs, in online listings, and in newspaper and catalogue advertisements.
Not all grocery items must be unit priced.
Comparing the unit prices of grocery items will help you get the best value for money. The unit price is displayed on supermarket shelf labels to make it easier for you to see savings. Follow these steps:
- Find the product you need.
- Check its unit price.
- Compare that unit price with the unit price of the same or a similar product in a different brand or pack size to see which is cheaper.
The largest package, special deals or home brand items may not be the cheapest option. Sometimes fresh produce can be the best value, but at other times, canned or frozen may be cheaper.
Unit pricing helps you find the best value item on the day you shop.
Unit prices can appear as per litre, kilogram, 100 millilitres, 100 grams, 10 grams or per item, depending on the type of product.
- 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.
How item is sold
Unit of measurement for unit pricing
per 100 grams
per 100 millilitres
per square metre
per item included
Some grocery items 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).
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.
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.
Use unit pricing to get better value for money by comparing:
- different brands
- special and normal prices
- packaged and loose – for example potatoes
- fresh, frozen, dried or canned – for example peas
- similar and substitute products – for example rice types
- different convenience levels – for example cheese in blocks/ wedges/slices/sticks, or grated or diced
- different package sizes and package types in the same brand and across brands
- different grocery retailers, including online stores.
Look out for special offers which might temporarily have the lowest unit price — but not always. The unit price of large packs is often lower than small or medium size packs. But avoid buying a bigger pack if it’s likely to go to waste.
Compare unit prices in different parts of the supermarket. The same product may be sold in different sections, for example, cheese, meats, seafood, nuts, fruit and vegetables.
Supermarkets and online stores do not have to display unit pricing for the items listed in the following table:
|Household goods and appliances||Electrical and other equipment||Promotions, markdowns and services||Food, beverages and personal products|
|Toys||Computer equipment||Goods for hire||Alcoholic beverages|
|Furniture||Audio-visual equipment||Items sold from vending machines||Meals made by retail outlets for customers to eat immediately|
|Manchester||Telecommunications items or equipment||Items for motor vehicle maintenance or repair||Clothing, jewellery and other fashion items (other than make-up)|
|Haberdashery||Sports and camping equipment||Promotions where items that differ in type or weight are offered at the same price||Cigarettes and other tobacco products, including nicotine replacement products|
|Hardware items||Photography items and equipment||Marked-down items where the item is perishable or discontinued or where 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|
|Books, magazines and stationery||Electrical items (other than batteries and light bulbs)||Services, and goods supplied as part of providing a service, including mobile phone recharges|
|Flowers, including fresh, dried and imitation flowers||Optical discs and magnetic storage devices used for computing, sound reproduction or video, whether or not they are pre-loaded with content|
|Household appliances and kitchen and bathroom utensils|
|Garden tools, and items for garden or pool maintenance or decoration|
Unit pricing must be displayed where two or more of the same grocery items are offered for a single price.
Bundles of different types of grocery items do not require unit pricing.
Unit pricing is not required where similar items of different sizes and weights are sold at a single price.
We explain how unit pricing works in practice.
If you find a unit price missing or confusing, we suggest contacting the business about it first. If that doesn't resolve the problem, please contact the ACCC.