Fruit and veg price labels

More supermarkets have signed up to a campaign on clearer prices

Supermarket prices could become a little easier to understand after The Co-operative Group, Waitrose and Aldi signed up to a campaign for simpler and more consistent pricing.

The three supermarkets have joined the ‘Price It Right’ campaign, Which? announced today, with a commitment to making their food labels easier to understand so shoppers can compare prices more easily. The trio join Morrisons, which committed to the campaign when it launched in September.

“Hard-pressed shoppers want to know at a glance what the cheapest deal is without having to get their calculators out, so it’s a win for consumers that four major supermarkets have committed to improving their labels,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

“The remaining supermarkets should now follow suit, and listen to the thousands of people that have backed the Which? campaign.”

“In the longer term we want the government to simplify pricing legislation so that retailers and manufacturers can make food prices even easier to compare”

Richard Lloyd, Which?

Which? said that Sainsbury’s had been working on transparent pricing over the last 18 months and that Lidl and Tesco were “making active steps towards simpler pricing”. It added that Asda was looking at improving its labelling but Iceland and Marks & Spencer had yet to take any action.

An M&S spokeswoman said: “Both our selling and unit prices are clearly displayed on all our food products in accordance with current legislation. Our pricing is simple, consistent and transparent and our customers have told us they are happy with our approach.”

A spokesman for Iceland said the discounter prided itself on the clarity of its pricing. “We pioneered the introduction of ‘round sum’ pricing in UK food retailing and today 70% of what we sell, whether under our own brand or manufacturers’ brands, is clearly priced in multiples of £1 or 50p. We fully comply with all relevant legislation and have seen no evidence of customer demand for us to complicate our price and value message by introducing unit pricing on the lines that Which? is campaigning for.”

Voluntary commitment

The voluntary Price It Right commitment drawn up by Which? includes displaying a consistent unit price using the same unit measurement; including the unit price of items on in-store promotions; and ensuring that labels are clearly visible and comply with Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) guidelines.

“In the longer term we want the government to simplify pricing legislation so that retailers and manufacturers can make food prices even easier to compare,” Lloyd added.

The Co-op said that in addition to signing up to the Which? scheme, it planned to roll out “enhanced” shelf-edge labelling with larger unit prices at 2,800 of its food stores later this year.

“This move will enable shoppers to more easily compare the prices of similar products, so they can make more informed choices. Unit prices will also be more clearly displayed for products that are on promotion, allowing shoppers to better understand the savings that can be made,” said The Co-operative Food’s chief operating officer Sean Toal.

The campaign has received the backing of business secretary Vince Cable. “Clearer prices and promotions will be a big help for consumers who want to be more savvy and work out how to save more on their weekly shop. In addition, more transparency will boost competition and help support a stronger economy,” he said.

Image: Which?