By Aimee Chanthadavong

Choice has toasted to the first birthday of the grocery unit pricing in supermarkets but said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) needs to be more forceful on those who fail to comply with the pricing law.

Unit pricing means that shelf labels and advertisements have to show the cost per unit of weight or volume (typically per kilogram or litre) as well as the ticketed price. It allows easy comparison of price regardless of brand or package size.

An ACCC survey showed that while major supermarkets followed most provisions of the unit price code, more than a third of online grocers and many small and independent supermarkets failed to comply properly.

Choice spokesperson Christopher Zinn told Retailbiz that there is a lot of inconsistency in unit pricing both online and in-store.

 “Some of the sums on these online sites would make a five-year-old laugh with some of them being really shotty. Some retailers don’t think it’s important and don’t make it a priority to make sure it’s right. They also don’t realise it’s actually a law and not just a wish or preference by the ACCC,” he said.

“We feel believe the issues found in major supermarkets is that prominence and eligibility of the unit pricing, particularly the ones on bottom and higher shelves, which can be really hard to see.

“You’ll also find that some prices are in grams and right next to it, it’s in kilograms and that tells me there’s a lot of confusion that still needs to be wrinkled out in the system.”

Choice is calling for the ACCC to be given the power to slap 'infringement notices' on those retailers who do not comply with the law and proceed with court action for repeat offenders.

The consumer group also believes the regulations should be fine tuned to ensure the term "prominent disclosure" is accurately defined. 

“We need consumer education and actually start telling people what it is and how to use it and that it can be used to save them money,” Zinn said.

“The supermarkets need to include it in their advertisements, their catalogues and in-store. I mean, they’re always able to educate consumers about new products, new celebrity chefs so the task shouldn’t be impossible.”