NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Comparing Unit for Unit

Comparing Unit for Unit


          Companies are always creating eye-catching container designs and bigger packaging to persuade us to purchase their products. During special occasions, such as a family gathering, our eyes might glance towards the bigger product and ignore everything else.

          There is though a way to figure out if you really need that huge family size cereal box or get a better deal with smaller boxes. Unit pricing can answer the question of which box, can or bag or purchase. What is unit pricing? It is a method to show ex­actly how much a food costs per ounce, pound, quart, gallon, etc. The unit price can be used to figure out which brand or size is a better buy for you.

          Unit prices tell you the cost of one unit, such as an ounce.

  • Find unit price labels on the shelf edge right under the package next to the item price.
  • Use unit prices to compare costs of different brands of the same food.
  • Unit pricing makes it easy to compare the prices of different sizes of the same brand.
  • Use unit prices to compare different forms (such as fresh, canned, or frozen) of the same food.
  •           In most states in the US, and in more and more countries around the world, every time you see a price tag at a grocery store, you’ll actually see two prices. The more prominent number is the real price — the amount that the cashier will ask you to pay when you get to the cash register. The smaller number, tucked away on the side of the price tag, is something called the unit price. Often, the unit price will be in a smaller font size, printed with a lighter color of ink, or the real price will have yellow highlighting on it to call attention to itself.

              Sometimes foods sold in the “giant” or “family” size may seem like the best buy. You may think that buying one large container will cost less than two or three smaller packages. But larger contain­ers do not always end up costing you less in the long run. The big, economy size is not a good buy if you cannot store it properly, or if the food ex­pires before you are able to use it. If you find you are wasting a large portion of the economy-size foods, you may actually save money by purchasing smaller packages and reducing waste.

              Store brands and off-brands often cost less than national brands. The look of off-brand products may be the only difference. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on the food label to see if the nutrients are the same. Sometimes these foods may vary in size, color or texture more than the national brands. For example, if you want a perfect peach half, you may want to pay the price of a national brand. If you want sliced peaches to serve your child or as a quick snack, it may not matter if each slice is the same. Unit pricing is one more tool you can use to help you make better financial choices when shopping.

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