Supermarkets agree on price labels

The 10 major supermarkets have committed to displaying consistent unit pricing to allow consumers to compare similar products easily , the Government has announced.

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The Which? consumer group has called on retailers to commit to making special-offer deals simpler to understand

The 10 major supermarkets have committed to displaying consistent unit pricing to allow consumers to compare similar products easily , the Government has announced.

But four - Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Asda and Sainsbury's - are still not displaying the unit price of products on some multi-buy promotions, potentially leaving their customers confused as to whether the deals offer value for money.

The Which? consumer group, which launched its Price it Right campaign last year to encourage supermarkets to adopt clearer shelf information, called on the four retailers to commit to making special-offer deals simpler to understand.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Hard-pressed shoppers want to know at a glance what the cheapest deal is without having to get their calculators out, so this is a victory for the 32,000 people who signed up to our Price it Right campaign Which? launched more than a year ago.

"We now need the remaining supermarkets to commit to making special-offer deals simpler to understand. With rising food prices one of consumers' top worries, it's only right that supermarkets play fair and help consumers find the best deal."

Earlier this year Consumer Minister Jo Swinson called on supermarkets to improve the way they display the unit price - the amount consumers pay for a product per unit of weight - in addition to the actual selling price.

She said all 10 supermarkets - Aldi, Asda, the Co-operative, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose - had improved the visibility of shelf labels on supermarket shelves with changes such as increased font size.

The Government is also calling on brand manufacturers to follow the supermarkets' lead and take a consistent approach to measurements on labels.

A recent survey by Which? found that while eight in 10 people look out for offers in supermarkets, three in 10 have regretted buying products they bought only because they were on offer.

Ms Swinson said: "It can be hard for households to work out the best deal when food is sometimes priced individually - like a mince pie - or soups and sauces, which can be priced by both the gram and millilitre.

"This year around £74 billion will be spent in the 10 largest supermarkets, which make up around half the market. So it's a win-win situation if the big 10 are giving consumers a fairer way to understand the prices they're paying.

"It is great that they have committed to greater consistency and clearer labels. We will now look at the current legislation to see if it's preventing supermarkets from making further improvements."

British Retail Consortium director for business and regulation Tom Ironside said: "We are delighted that the minister recognises the commitment made by our members to give consumers clear and accessible information about the products they buy.

"Our food retailers will continue to work with BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) to build on recent achievements, ensuring that the approach is as coherent and consistent for the consumer as is possible."

An Asda spokesman said: "We take pricing incredibly seriously at Asda, so much so that we've recently employed a new team within the business that looks at all aspects of our pricing process and challenges pricing practices in store and online.

"We are supportive of any changes in the law that make things easier for customers and we are reviewing a number of different initiatives including changes to font size, the addition of unit prices for multi-buys of the same item and standardised and consistent unit measurement, particularly across fruit and vegetables."