Unit pricing comes into effect today

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 1st July 2009

The Federal Government’s unit pricing* Code of Conduct becomes operable today, with retailers given until 1 December 2009 to display unit pricing on food based grocery items.

The Australian National Retailers Association, which represents Coles, Woolworths and Franklins, said today that many supermarkets had already made the move ahead of schedule.

“Thousands of every day grocery items across the country’s largest supermarkets already display unit prices,” ANRA CEO Margy Osmond advised. “Franklins has completely rolled out unit pricing across its 82 stores. Both Coles and Woolworths already display unit prices on thousands of everyday grocery items.”

The code applies to supermarkets over 1,000 square metres in size, however smaller retailers can ‘opt-in’. The code will also cover advertising and online food sales.

“We are pleased the Federal Government consulted widely and produced a practical national code,” Mrs Osmond added. “While price is an important consideration for consumers, other factors like convenience, trading hours, and food quality also are important factors that influence shopping decisions.”

WHO THE UNIT PRICING CODE WILL APPLY TO:

• The draft code applies to online retailers, and store-based retailers with a floor space of more than 1000 square metres devoted to the display of grocery items, provided those retailers sell a minimum range of food-based grocery items.

The minimum range is at least seven of the following grocery categories:

* bread;
* breakfast cereal;
* butter;
* eggs;
* flour;
* fresh fruit and vegetables;
* fresh milk;
* meat;
* rice;
* sugar; and
* other packaged foods.

The code will apply to retailers who voluntarily display a unit price (with a transition period of six months), provided those retailers also supply the minimum range of food-based grocery items.

A store which voluntarily displays a unit price for some of its products, but does not supply the minimum range of food-based grocery items (for example, a department store unit pricing its chocolates, or a liquor store unit pricing its beer) would not be required to comply with the code.

The ACCC will be in charge of enforcing the code and today released two guides to assist retailers in complying with the new legislation.

* Unit pricing is where grocery items are priced by reference to common units of measure such as per 100 grams and per 100 millilitres (both the unit price and total price will be displayed).  Some products will be measured differently such as herbs and spices due to their small size and fresh produce like fish, vegetables and meat will continue to be sold on a per kilo basis.