MBIE will soon consult the grocery industry on technical details for a unit pricing standard to ensure it works effectively in practice in supermarkets.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark announced a few days before Christmas that the Government is putting in place rules on unit pricing to make it easier for consumers to compare the price of grocery products.

He said the new rules, which MBIE (the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment) will consult on early this year, will require supermarkets, and other large grocery retailers, to “clearly and consistently display unit pricing” – such as the price of a product per kilogram or litre.

The Commerce Commission’s market study found though major retailers display unit pricing on many products, it is not consistently used or displayed.

“Our work on unit pricing will help shoppers to compare the prices of similar products and choose the best deal for their needs,” Clark says.

“It’s particularly helpful where products are sold in different sized packaging and by different brands. We want to make it as easy as possible for Kiwis to use unit pricing in their weekly shop.

“At a time where global factors continue to drive up the cost of living around the world, and high grocery prices are making it hard for New Zealanders right now – our work around unit pricing will mean shoppers can gauge whether something is good bang for buck.

Under the new standard, unit pricing will be mandatory for groceries sold in stores with a floorspace above 1000 square metres. It will also be required in online grocery stores and in some forms of advertising.

“The new rules will mean that around 90 percent of the retail grocery market will need to display prominent, legible unit pricing that is easy for consumers to use. This includes our major grocery retailers, along with new entrants and online retailers, if the thresholds are met. Stores with a smaller footprint, such as dairies, specialist retailers, and international supermarkets, will be excluded from the standard – unless they choose to comply voluntarily.

“Along with helping shoppers to make informed decisions about what they buy, this new standard for unit pricing will also support inter-brand competition and encourage grocery retailers to compete on metrics such as price.”