Which? research on the unit price of supermarket products has found inconsistent and confusing pricing that would leave even the most savvy shopper reaching for the calculator to find the best deal.
A Which? investigation found that it can be almost impossible to easily compare the unit price of Cadbury Creme Eggs, and other popular supermarket products. The unit price of a Creme Egg was found to be calculated in different ways – sometimes per egg or per 100g, even from the same supermarket, depending on whether you bought a single egg or multipack – making it confusing and difficult for hard-pressed shoppers to establish what the best deal is.
- Waitrose selling a pack of six Creme Eggs online for an everyday price of £2 per pack; however, even though more expensive, they promote a 12 pack for £5 as a special ‘offer’. And it is cheaper at Waitrose to buy a smaller bag of Cadbury Mini Creme Eggs which work out at £1.11 per 100g, than a larger bag at £1.30 per 100g.
- Asda charges the same for a dozen boxed eggs as 12 single Creme Eggs; however the displayed unit pricing suggests otherwise, stating £1.22/100g for a single egg and 84.2p/100g for a 12 pack. But if the products and the price are the same then so too should the cost per 100g.
Unclear unit pricing was also found amongst a variety of other common supermarket items. We found Tesco selling ketchup with the price calculated on one brand per 100ml but on another per 100g. Fruit and vegetable pricing was particularly confusing. At Morrisons, for example, the cost of loose tomatoes was displayed on standard tomatoes as per kg and on beef tomatoes as per tomato, making it almost impossible to work out which was the best value.
Which? launched a ‘Price it Right’ campaign to get supermarkets to price products consistently in store and online to make it easier for shoppers to compare products. Our research shows that half of UK consumers now compare prices when shopping for groceries and a quarter of UK consumers have been forced to use savings to buy food or other daily essentials.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says
“People are struggling with rising food prices and shouldn’t be expected to carry a calculator around the supermarket in order to work out the best value. We want supermarkets to help their customers through clear and consistent unit pricing.”
Notes to Editor
Which? compared the prices of Cadbury Creme Eggs and Cadbury Mini Creme Eggs on sale on 02 April and 05 April 2012.
To view a copy of Which?’s Consumers 2012 report see www.which.co.uk/documents/pdf/consumers-2012-pdf-280618.pdf
In June 2011, Which? conducted an on-line survey of 1009 members of the public, 8 in 10 told us that they are worried about rising food prices. 52% were comparing prices more in June 2011 than they were 12 months before. Findings were weighted to be representative of the population.
Which? wants improvements to the legislation and the way that it is applied to ensure that the unit price is prominent and easy to read and that consistent units are used across the board. Which? also wants the exemption from unit pricing removed for multi-buys.
The unit price as well as the selling price is required by law to enable consumers to compare like with like. Our research in supermarkets across the UK has found five problems with unit pricing that need to be addressed to help consumers easily compare food prices as the law intended:
- The unit price can be very small and difficult to see.
- Retailers do not always give the unit price when they should.
- The unit price doesn’t have to be shown for promotions, such as multi-buys.
- Fruit and vegetables can display the price per item or per Kg making it impossible to compare.
- Different units are used for varieties of the same product (eg. per 100g and per Kg).