Offers on supermarket fruit may not be so juicyWhich? wants clearer unit pricing to help shoppers save money

21 June 2012

Fruit bowl

Shoppers could be confused by offers on fruit this summer, as Which? highlights key problems with supermarket pricing.

Is it better value to buy plums by the punnet, or loose? Which? researchers found that it could be tricky to tell, with supermarkets giving inconsistent and unclear unit pricing for fruit.

In Asda, a 400g punnet of plums was priced at £2.50 per kg, while a pack of six were priced at 25p per plum.

And it wasn't just plums that caused confusion. In Tesco, the unit price of two mangoes was given as £0.88 each, whereas packaged mango chunks were marked as £0.67 per 100g. Similarly, in Waitrose, a pack of two mangos had a unit price of £1.25 each, and 200g of mango chunks had a price of 99.5p per 100g.

The law around unit pricing

Currently all supermarkets are required to display a unit price alongside the price for the item. However, the rules around how this should be shown leave things open to inconsistencies. For example:

  • There is no requirement that a unit price be shown on special offers. This means that shoppers comparing 'buy one get one free' offers or '30% off' deals will find it tricky to spot the real bargains.
  • The law specifies how the unit price has to be displayed for different types of foods but this can be per kilogram, 100g, litre, 100ml or per item depending on the food. Without a set of scales, the prices of some fruit and vegetables are impossible to compare.
  • Often the unit price is displayed in very tiny print – not easy for anyone, let alone those who might be vision impaired.

Clearer unit pricing

Which? wants to see clearer and more consistent unit pricing in supermarkets. If all shops displayed the unit price clearly and prominently on labels, and used a consistent measure - with all products giving a 'price per kg' or 'price per litre' - then shoppers would be able to see which products really are good value.

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More on this...

  • Join the debate on food and food pricing
  • Find out more about unit pricing confusion
  • See how to save money on your weekly shop