Melvin Yong: Government should introduce mandatory unit pricing for supermarkets & grocery retailers

Yong, who is President of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) explained that CASE would be doing more to "help consumers make informed purchasing decisions".

Lean Jinghui | March 01, 2022, 05:04 PM

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Member of Parliament (MP) for Radin Mas SMC Melvin Yong spoke in Parliament on Mar. 1 about measures to manage rising cost of living.

With the Budget coming on the back of significant global inflationary pressures, Yong shared that he was "heartened" the Government had delayed the GST hike to 2023, so there was sufficient time for these measures to be introduced.

Expanded coverage for price comparisons

Yong, who is President of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and Assistant Secretary-General of NTUC, explained that CASE would, first of all, be doing more to "help consumers make informed purchasing decisions".

There will be more retailers, products, and services on Price Kaki – a mobile application that allows consumers to compare between the prices of different household essentials, groceries, and hawker food.

Yong said that Price Kaki would be expanded this year to cover more retailers, products, and services for consumers to compare prices better and stretch their dollars.

The number of cooked food stalls will be increased to cover an additional 200 food courts and coffee shops, up from the current 114 hawker centres, Yong added.

"CASE will also increase the coverage of groceries and household essentials from 4,000 to 10,000 items."

Encouraging the purchase of house brand items

In his speech, Yong also suggested consumers consider purchasing house brands for their daily essentials.

He noted that house brand products could cost 10 per cent to 25 per cent less than brand goods, and be just as good and nutritious "for a much lower cost".

Noting that house brands set an important price floor for items, Yong added that he called on all major supermarket chains to support this change in consumer behaviour.

Yong said he hoped major supermarket chains can absorb the GST increase for "selected house brand essential items".

Mandatory Unit Pricing

However, beyond enabling better price comparisons, Yong acknowledged that retailers can still maintain prices while reducing the quantity of products.

To counter this "shrinkflation", Yong called on the Government to introduce mandatory unit pricing for supermarkets and grocery retailers in Singapore.

Unit pricing is the price for one item or measurement, such as a kilogram, which can be used to compare the same type of goods sold at different weights and amounts.

According to Yong, mandatory unit pricing is already practised in countries such as Australia, Argentina, and Chile.

While it might have been an administrative challenge in the past, when price tags were printed on paper placed manually on shelves, the digitalisation of price tags today could help reduce this challenge in displaying unit pricing.

Yong pointed out that CASE will pave the way for price transparency.

It would do so by showcasing the unit price alongside the retail price for items listed on Price Kaki.

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Top image via MCI Singapore YouTube