When the cost per unit (e.g. per 100g) is displayed, shoppers can easily compare the price of products, regardless of their size or packaging. Unit pricing enables you to make informed purchasing decisions and understand the true cost of a product.
The way unit pricing is currently displayed in supermarkets makes comparing products incredibly difficult. Whether it’s impossibly small print, incorrect unit prices or inconsistent use of measures, unit pricing in Aotearoa is confusing, and New Zealanders are missing out on savings as a result.
A trial over the ditch found that shoppers armed with clear and accurate unit pricing saved, on average, 11% off their grocery bill. Research has also shown that unit pricing can stimulate healthy competition between retailers.
However, this is all due to change soon with the introduction of a new Unit Pricing Consumer Information Standard. Unit pricing has been mandatory in the EU, several states in the US and Australia for years – we're glad it’s finally landing on our shores.
We have been advocating for mandatory unit pricing at supermarkets for decades. The new regulations come into effect on August 2023 and are a step in the right direction to helping consumers make more informed purchasing decisions. The regulations are being introduced as part of the Government’s wider efforts to increase long-overdue competition in the grocery sector.
Unit pricing regulations: What you can expect to see
- Certain grocery stores will be required to display unit pricing beside the cost of the product in store and online, and in written advertisements.
- Grocery stores will only be captured if they have a floor size of more than 1000 square metres and if they sell bread, dairy products, eggs or egg products, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, rice, sugar and manufacturer packaged foods. Smaller stores that sell all these items and that choose to display unit prices will also have to comply with the regulations
- There is a 12-month transition period, so you may not see unit pricing in all physical stores until August 2024. Online stores will be required to display unit pricing by August 2025.
- Unit prices must be displayed prominently, clearly, legibly and in a font size no less than 25% of the font size of the price.
- Consistent measurements are required to be used to help you make direct comparisons across sizes and brands e.g. per 100g for most items sold by weight, per 100 millilitres for most items sold by volume or per item for those sold by number e.g. cleaning clothes or eggs.
- Retailers will be expected to educate consumers about how unit pricing works – so keep an eye out for resources and other helpful information.
- There are exemptions for certain product types, such as tobacco, alcohol, clothing and toys.
Even though the regulations don’t include everything we asked for, they’re certainly an improvement on the status quo.