Big supermarkets and online grocery retailers must display the unit price and the unit of measurement of a grocery item alongside its selling price (unless the item is exempt).
Unit pricing is a labelling system that allows you to compare prices when buying groceries. By using standard units of measurement 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 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 stores that sell a limited range of grocery items.
You should find unit prices on in-store shelf price labels and promotional signs, online listings, and in newspaper and catalogue advertisements.
Not all grocery items must be unit priced.
Unit prices can appear as per litre, kilogram, 100 millilitres, 100 grams, 10 grams or per item, depending on the type of product.
Most grocery items use a standard unit of measurement:
Type of item
Unit of measurement
Supplied by weight
per 100 grams
Supplied by volume
per 100 millilitres
Supplied by length
Supplied by area
per square metre
Supplied by number
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 these unit pricing tips to help get better value for money:
- Compare the unit price of different sizes of the same brand’s product, as well as products from different brands of the same product.
- 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.
- If a product is available loose or pre-packaged, check the unit price of both.
- 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.
The following products do not have to carry unit prices:
- 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 rechargers
- 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.
Retailers also do not have to display unit prices for:
- 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.
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.