Is bigger cheaper?

Unit pricing helps shoppers get value for money and make better choices.
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03.International studies

European experience

Unit pricing is a legal requirement in the European Union.

Prior to the introduction of the mandatory unit pricing in the UK, a survey of 1000 consumers in stores already providing this information found:

  • 77% agreed that all food retailers should have to give unit prices across their entire product range.
  • 61% had used unit pricing at some time.
  • 51% used it frequently.
  • When provided with only the total price and weight for six different sizes of baked beans, just 7% of consumers could accurately calculate the lowest unit price. 
  • When provided with unit price information 78% identified the cheapest option.
  • Providing unit price information reduced the average time needed to identify the cheapest option from 58 seconds to 18 seconds.

Australian study

Ian Jarratt of the Queensland Consumers’ Association has been awarded a grant (Churchill Fellowship) to undertake research on the use of unit pricing in Europe and the US.

“My research has already shown that in the 25-nation European Union (population 450 million) and in several states in the USA, supermarkets must provide shoppers with this information for almost every item on sale,” he says. “Many Australian shoppers don’t work out the unit price of goods because it’s difficult and time-consuming. As a result, often they don’t get the best value for their money, because the unit price varies greatly between package sizes and brands.”

Ian’s report and recommendations were published in mid 2007.


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