Retired economist and spokesman for the Queensland Consumers’ Association (QCA) Ian Jarratt has sent a startling message to shoppers – “You could be paying 14 times more for the same grocery product in the same store.”

Ian Jarratt from Queensland Consumer's Association. Photo:

Ian Jarratt from Queensland Consumers’ Association. Photo:

Speaking to, Mr Jarratt is warning shoppers of a new ploy used by supermarkets: It is a recent marketing tactic known as ‘Confuse-opoly’. The idea is to distract and confuse shoppers making it more difficult for them to make decisions. In this state the most expensive brands have an equal chance of being chosen as the cheapest ones. In fact, they may even have an edge as their flashy packaging becomes a tie-breaker.

Mr. Jarratt told reporters the unit pricing of goods is not being intelligently used by consumers. “The supermarkets have done next to nothing to educate people,” Unit Pricing was made law in 2009. It enables buyers to compare brands according to their price per unit measurement (per litre, kilogram, 100 millilitres, 100 grams, 10 grams, or per unit).

But shoppers appear not to be embracing this new comparison information.

For instance, some goods are having their package size increased while the quantity of the goods they contain remain the same. Most shoppers see a larger package, believe it will be cheaper if they buy in bulk, and choose it believing it contains more.

Mr Jarratt said the QCA had found fresh chillies that worked out to be $125 per kilogram on sale in a 20-gram pack. While in the same store the same chillies were being sold for $9 per kilogram wen purchased loose. This works out to the former being 14 times more expensive than the latter!

The QCA lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer commission (ACCC) in May of this year alleging Coles, Woolworths, ALDI and IGA stores were in breach of unit pricing regulations.

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