08.Consumer Action Award
Winner: Ian Jarratt
As part of the CHOICE Awards, we also wanted to pay tribute to the winner of our inaugural Consumer Action Award, Ian Jarratt (pictured right, with CHOICE CEO Nick Stace).
When you see the price per 100g or 100mL alongside the shelf price of most items in supermarkets, you’re witnessing the lasting legacy of Ian’s advocacy in action. The arrival of a national mandatory unit pricing (UP) scheme for pre-packaged groceries at the end of 2009 was due to his drive, zeal and eye for detail.
As a researcher and campaigner with the volunteer-only Queensland Consumer Association, Ian wanted Australia to enjoy the benefits of a world-class system of UP. The pricing mechanism allows consumers to compare value easily across brands and different-sized packages, and has been in use in Europe and some parts of North America for 25 years.
But Ian appreciated there could be many pitfalls in any scheme without consumer advocates focusing forensic attention on the small print of the code retailers might follow. To prove his point and get detailed information on UP overseas, he was the worthy recipient of a Churchill Fellowship and visited the USA and four European nations in 2007.
He followed this with many detailed written submissions to politicians, governments and the 2008 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission grocery inquiry. Ian then helped CHOICE participate in widespread consultations over the then proposed plan.
Now we have unit pricing, but Ian is not resting on his laurels. He’s still fighting for improvements in terms of legibility, prominence and consumer education about the scheme.
For his tireless, selfless and modest devotion to a singular cause to benefit consumers and his continuing work to make it better, Ian Jarratt has demonstrated himself a worthy recipient of this Award.