Unit pricing in the grocery store is a big plus because it is easy to find the best buy. Not always.

Today I wanted to buy a jar of roasted red peppers. Initially I picked up the one on sale:

a 10-ounce jar for $1.77, surely the best offer, right?

I saw a little larger jar, 14-ounces for $2.79;

Then on the bottom shelf, 24-ounce jar for $3.49.


Which one? I checked out the unit price:

10 ounces at $5.69 per quart

14 ounces at $3.18 per pound

24 ounces at $1.99 per pint

Quarts, pounds, pints, or apples and oranges. To make a comparison, you obviously need the same standard unit.

I stood in front of the shelf trying to determine the price per ounce of each jar.

$1.77 divided by ten: easy, 17.7 cents per ounce

2.79 divided by fourteen: one with 13 left over; 139 divided fourteen (14, 28, 56, 112, 126, 140) OK, it’s nine: so it’s 19 plus cents per ounce

3.99 divided by 24: one with 15 left over; 159 divided by twenty-four (24, 48, 72, 96,120,144, 168), it’s 6: so it’s 16 plus cents per ounce.

By the time I’d figured out the cheapest of the three jars per ounce, I’d become annoyed and went to ask to speak to the manager.

He immediately offered to show me the one on sale for a savings of 52 cents. When I began to question him, he thought I was angry and upset. I assured him I wasn’t and asked that he look at the shelves with me.

He easily saw why I or anyone else would be confused and he took out his calculator. He figured out the first two. I suggested the one from the bottom shelf. He assured me it was a more expensive product but pacified me by working it out.

“It’s the cheapest,” he acknowledged. “You’re a smart shopper.”

I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious, but I thought it was worthwhile to point out to someone in charge that they need to check such points to give the consumer the best buy.

Sometimes the smaller jar or can ends up being cheaper, if you cannot use all of the product that you buy and must throw some away, you have saved nothing. But in this case, I need quite a lot of roasted red peppers and they will stay useable in the refrigerator for several days, or I will freeze those I can’t use immediately.

PS: When I checked out the 3.99 item it scanned with a sale price of 3.49 or 14.5 cents per ounce. Wow!




  1. Unit pricing is a great concept, and could be very helpful if only. . . And this is why I’m grateful my phone has a calculator. Now that the manager knows, will anything change?

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