When you think of travel, you probably think of airplanes, lodging, restaurants, ground transportation, attractions, historical sites, shopping, and souvenirs — but one of the ways in which you can save money is to purchase items at a local grocery store or supermarket, where you do not usually need to be concerned with inflated prices for tourists and giving gratuities…
…but how much money will you save — especially as a result of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic?
I have been given express written permission to use the illustrations, maps, and the verbatim text from this article — which was written by Bonnie P from NetCredit — in this article which pertains to the cost of essential food and grocery items in many countries around the world. This information is general in nature only and does not constitute personal advice. While NetCredit has endeavored to ensure the information provided is accurate and current, it cannot guarantee it. Neither NetCredit nor The Gate accept liability for the information which is presented in this article.
In which countries are essential food items and groceries least expensive in general — and in which countries would those items be the most expensive?
The Cost of Essential Food Around the World
The global pandemic put the humble grocery basket in the spotlight. More to the point, it was the basket’s contents — or lack of contents — that concerned the world.
Panic-buying for toilet paper became a meme in 2020. The baking craze made flour a rare commodity. But at the same time, 2.37 billion people – one in three humans – suffered from food insecurity, unable to afford a balanced and nutritious diet. That’s a rise of 320 million people due to the pandemic. In the US, grocery prices are likely to keep rising.
Meanwhile, in the UK, coronavirus and Brexit have led to a shortage of truck drivers and a shortage of food on the shelves. This is a land where the national security agency believes society is only ever “four meals away from anarchy” – and where primeminister Boris Johnson once said, “I don’t know how much a pint of milk costs – so what?”
But the price of essential groceries does matter – and so does how that cost relates to your income. NetCredit designed a shopping list of staple foods and researched how much it would cost to buy in grocery stores around the world, plus affordability compared to local wages. And then we did the same for a vegan shopping list, too.
- Switzerland has the most expensive essentials in the world – costing $52.95 for a regular basket of groceries.
- The cost for the same groceries in Djibouti is $6.89, just 13% of the price in Switzerland.
- The United States has the most affordable regular and vegan essentials in the world – in each case, our sample basket of food costs around 12% of the average day’s pay.
- The United Arab Emirates has the world’s most expensive vegan food, costing more than double its non-vegan equivalent.
Djibouti, Moldova and Paraguay Have the World’s Cheapest Groceries – but the US is Most Affordable
First, we assembled a shopping list of essential foods. Then we checked this list against the prices listed on supermarket websites around the world. Here’s what the totals include:
Breakfast Cereal | Eggs (regular) (12) | Boneless chicken breast (500g / 1lb) | 500g (16 oz.) of local cheese | Vegetable oil (1 liter bottle) | Loaf of fresh white bread (500g) | Milk (regular) (1 liter) | Potato (1kg / 2lb) | Tomato (1kg / 2lb) | Banana (1kg / 2lb) | Canned tuna (140g) | Water (1.5 liter bottle)
We then calculated the affordability of this basket in each country as a percentage of the average daily wage.
For additional information which may be potentially valuable to you, please refer to this article at The Gate which lists nine reasons to visit a market or supermarket while traveling — which I am considering updating for a future article — and this article contains a grocery store tour of select destinations around the world.
All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.