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Publication #FCS1051

Compare Unit Pricing1

Glenda L. Warren and Claudia Peñuela2

Unit pricing is the price for one "measure" of an item. It may be the price per ounce, pound, quart, or gallon. Unit pricing is almost always listed on the store shelves just below the items—so you do not have to do the math, stores will often calculate this for us. Using unit pricing allows us to compare the prices of similar products to find the best deal. Unit pricing allows us to compare:

The same product, same brand, but different amounts. For example, 16 ounces of cheddar cheese versus 8 ounces of cheddar cheese.

Products from different brands. For example, store brands versus national brands.

Different forms of one product. For example, frozen blueberries versus fresh blueberries.

Sometimes, the large container will have the best price per unit, but this is not always the case. Remember to buy the size that fits your budget and meal plan. If the large size is less expensive, then buy the largest size, but only if you will be able to store and use the product before it goes bad.

Figure 1. 

Sample unit pricing labels


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

If we compare the unit pricing labels for two fictitious brands of cereal, we will see that the unit of measure is typically in ounces. The cost per ounce is the unit price:

  • 18 oz. box of Snappy Rice: Total Price = $2.50 @ 13.9¢ per oz.

  • 12 oz. box of Crackly Rice: Total Price = $2.30 @ 19.3¢ per oz.

  1. Name the cereal that costs the least (total price).

  2. Name the brand that costs the least per ounce.

  3. Which cereal product is the better buy?

Occasionally, you have to figure out the cost per serving on your own. To do this, you divide the total price by the size of the item. For example, if a 16-ounce package costs $10.50, its unit price would be $10.50 ÷ 16 = $.66 per ounce. If an 8-ounce package costs $4.99, its unit price would be $.63 per ounce. Therefore, the 8-ounce package has a lower cost per ounce. Note that the larger size is not always cheaper!

Try this example: if a 20-ounce package of cereal cost $13, what is the cost per ounce?

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS1051, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published: September 1997. Revised: November 2000, Februrary 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/.

2.

Originally adapted in 1997 from Eating Right Is Basic, 3rd Edition (1995: Michigan State University Extension) for use in Florida by Glenda L. Warren, M.S., R.D., CFCS, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF│IFAS. Revised in 2011 by Claudia Peñuela, nutrition assistant—EFNEP; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville 32611-0310.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.