Consumer Watch: How to save money on groceries as family budgets tighten

Candice EvansGeraldton Guardian
With discussion in the community about possible inflation and interest rate rises, many people will be looking at ways to save money to balance the family budget.
Camera IconWith discussion in the community about possible inflation and interest rate rises, many people will be looking at ways to save money to balance the family budget. Credit: bloomberg/bloomberg

With discussion in the community about possible inflation and interest rate rises, many people will be looking at ways to save money to balance the family budget.

One way to save money while grocery shopping is using unit pricing, which shows consumers not just the cost of a product, but what the value of that product is as a cost per standard unit of measurement.

Large grocery stores and some online grocery retailers must display the unit price of packaged foods (such as breakfast cereal, flour and rice) and other grocery products (such as toilet paper and detergents) on shelf labels.

The price of many grocery products sold unpackaged, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh meat, is also shown per unit of measurement.

Keep these money-saving tips in mind for your next grocery shop:

  • The unit price of large packs is often (but not always) lower than small- or medium-sized pack, so it pays to check. Also avoid buying a bigger pack if it’s likely to go to waste.
  • Compare the unit price of different sizes of the same brand’s product, as well as different brands of the same product.
  • Look out for special offers which might temporarily have the lowest unit price — but not always.
  • If a product is available loose or pre-packaged, check the unit price of both.
  • Compare unit prices in different parts of the supermarket. The same product may be sold in different sections, for example, cheese, meats, seafood, nuts, fruit and vegetables.

Packaged groceries will often be sold by weight, and liquids sold by volume. For example, you might check and see a 500g box of traditional rolled oats for $4.25, with a unit price of $0.85 per 100g. You could compare that with a pack of rolled oats sachets for $4.80, with a unit price of $1.41 per 100g. You can then decide which is better value and would best suit your situation.

For more information on unit pricing and how it can help you save money, visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website www.accc.gov.au/consumers/groceries/grocery-unit-prices.

Candice Evans is senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Mid West and Murchison

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