Blog: Check and compare unit prices to save money

With so many consumers feeling the financial pinch due to the COVID-19 economic crisis, the need to get the best value when buying groceries has never been so great.

One way to help you budget and save while grocery shopping, is by using unit pricing.

A national consumer education campaign has been launched by the national and state/territory consumer protection regulators to increase grocery shopper awareness and use of unit pricing. The campaign includes information in several languages, and promotes the use of unit prices to make many different types of value comparison.

What is unit pricing?

Unit pricing at grocery stores shows consumers, not just the cost of a product, but what the value of that product is as a cost per standard unit of measurement on shelf labels for groceries. Unit pricing makes it easy to check, compare and save when buying groceries.

Unit prices can appear as per litre, kilogram, 100 millilitres, 100 grams, 10 grams or per item, depending on the type of product.

Large grocery stores and some online grocery retailers must display the unit price when selling packaged food and other grocery products, such as bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables and toilet paper.

Differences in unit prices between products and retailers can be very large, and consumers spend around $100 billion a year on groceries, so comparing unit prices can result in major benefits for consumers including saving money and getting more or better quality for the same expenditure.

Unit pricing tips

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.

More information

Find out more on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website or download the Saving money buying groceries factsheet which has tips and examples on how to compare costs and is available in 16 languages other than English.