Unit pricing scheme details to be unveiled early next year

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 11th December 2008

Australia’s Consumer Affairs Minister, Chris Bowen, has told reporters in Sydney today that the framework for a national unit pricing scheme is nearing completion and will be revealed early next year.

Unit pricing, one of the recommendations from the ACCC’s Grocery Price Inquiry, requires supermarkets and grocers to display the price per unit of measurement e.g. per gram or kilogram as well as the product price for packaged goods.

“It’s been the law in Europe for 10 years, it’s been the law in several states in America for 30 years. It’s high time it was introduced here,” Mr Bowen said.

Australia’s largest chains have all indicated support for unit pricing, but some independents are concerned the cost of implementation may put them at a disadvantage.

Aldi and Franklins have already added the unit price to their labels, while the nation’s largest supermarket operator, Woolworths, began a roll-out of unit pricing last month. Coles, too, has outlined support for the scheme, announcing in May that a roll-out would begin within 12 months.

Mr Bowen added that the laws would attempt to “strike a balance” so that small independent operators would not struggle to cope with high implementation costs. “You need to get as many supermarkets as possible, at the same time you don’t want very small businesses being burdened with the implementation cost,” he noted. “I’ll be announcing in the new year exactly the framework for doing it.”