How to Compare Unit Prices on Groceries

by Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017

One loaf of bread is $2.50 and another next to it is only $1.75. If you're looking for the best price, you may reach for the $1.75 loaf. But wait! If you look at the UNIT PRICE of each of the loaves, you'll see that per ounce, the $2.50 loaf is less expensive! As a careful shopper, and in order to determine the best value for your money, always check the UNIT PRICE comparison on the grocery store shelf. Read on for easy instructions on how to compare "apples to apples."

Step 1


The purpose of UNIT PRICING is to assist consumers in making decisions on their purchases. In the grocery store, you'll notice that on the shelf below the item is a tag. The larger number on the tag is the total price of the item. The smaller number in the upper-left-hand corner of the tag is the UNIT PRICE. The unit price is the price per unit of weight or measurement -- often it will be per ounce.

NOTE: If the tag doesn't give a unit price, you can determine this by dividing the total price by the number of units.

Step 2


By listing the UNIT PRICE for items, you are able to see the cost per unit. For instance, one 8 oz. jar of olives on the grocery store shelf shows a total price of $4.19. The 12 oz. jar next to it has a total price of $4.99. A third 8 oz. jar of olives on the shelf has a total price of $5.49. You may automatically reach for the $4.19 jar. But, by checking the UNIT PRICE for each, you'll understand the true value:

JAR 1 UNIT PRICE - $ 0.052 (approximately 5 cents per ounce) JAR 2 UNIT PRICE - $ 0.042 (approximately 4 cents per ounce) JAR 3 UNIT PRICE - $ 0.069 (approximately 7 cents per ounce)

Step 3


By comparing the UNIT PRICE, you can make a decision to purchase the grocery item that gives the best value. In the sample above, the best value is the second jar at 4 cents per ounce, even though the total cost is higher. If you make a habit of checking UNIT PRICE tags, you'll see that items vary wildly in value.


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