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Groceries in England... cheaper than U.S? Why?

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During a recent trip to England, I couldn't help but notice that supermarket food items were significantly cheaper than what I pay in Philadelphia... even after conversion to the U.S. dollar equivalent. I can't remember exact amounts, but one example is Greek-style yogurt (which we couldn't even get in this country until a couple years ago!) It was about half of what I pay here.

Does anyone know why? We're a larger country... is transportation an issue? Or are we just getting ripped off?

On a related note, the dairy products seem to be of a much higher quality in England (not to mention the chocolate!) Any insight would be much appreciated.

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  1. I suspect you didn't 'average' everything out. Meat is cheaper in the US. Bread and dairy tend to be cheaper in the UK. Yoghurt is relatively new in the US. The typical yoghurt display in a UK supermarket is twice as big with much more variation. The following statement is speculative opinion: Brits spend a higher percentage of their food budget in shops as opposed to restaurants.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Paulustrious

      Meat is probably cheaper for several reasons. Firstly, we don't have huge agribusinesses here. Secondly, we are a small, over-populated country so land is at a premium. Thirdly, petrol is a lot more expensive so transportation costs more. Fourthly, and I'm not positive about this, I think the use of antibiotics and growth hormones is probably less common.

      1. re: greedygirl

        Note that the English don't find meat cheap. I will never forget standing at the meat counter at the Safeway on Edgware Road in London as a woman picked up a piece of wrapped meat, threw it back into the freezer bin, and said with disgust, " 'e want four pound for this, do 'e? Well, 'e can stick it up 'is 'ole, 'e can".

        1. re: Querencia

          Well there's no way you can buy chicken for 69 cents per pound in England, as is the case in America. The question is, what does that chicken taste like?

          1. re: greedygirl

            Well, unless one buys their chicken from Whole Foods or some other source (perhaps a local farmer) it tastes like all the other chicken on sale at a normal grocery store, because that's usually a loss-leader sale price. I've gotten whole chickens and chicken legs at a similar price from nearly every grocery store in town, including Tesco's Fresh & Easy and the "natural" markets (Sprouts and Sunflower). The only places that I haven't seen such a sale are Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

            My husband's a college student. We live on only my modest income. Our only debts are our mortgage and my very small car payment (which is almost paid off). We don't eat out much, our only luxuries are cable/internet. I shop the loss leaders and stock up on those. I try not to buy many processed foods and I try to cook from scratch. It's the best we can do for now.

            1. re: Jen76

              I live in the UK. A good price for factory farmed chicken is £1.99 a pound. Free range chicken is about double that in the cheapest supermarkets (Aldi and Lidl) but it has a lot more flavour. Also I can't bring myself to eat chicken that has been raised intensively, but that is a choice that I can now afford to make. :-)

              1. re: greedygirl

                Wow. That's expensive! I'd say regular price here where I live is around $1.29/lb. I don't think I can even buy a free range chicken at a "regular" grocery store. Maybe at one of the "natural" markets. Definitely at Whole Foods and TJ's. I used to shop at Whole Foods a lot more when we both worked.

                1. re: Jen76

                  My usual mid range supermarket is Sainsbury. Whole chicken prices from their website:

                  Standard "basics" range - £1.99 per kg

                  "Freedom Food" * - £2.79 per kg

                  Free Range - £4.33 per kg

                  Organic - £5.49

                  Obviously jointed products like breast are more expensive per kg.

                  I usually buy the free range but occasionally the organic. I am not prepared to buy factory produced meat. We make economies elsewhere.

                  * ("Freedom Foods" standards are slightly higher welfare conditions designed in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

                  1. re: Jen76

                    Sorry, I think that must be the price per kilo. So not that much difference really.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Well, I just went shopping. At Trader Joe's the free range whole chickens are $1.99/lb (and they were ginormous) and the organic, free range whole chickens are $2.69/lb (also huge). Each chicken was ~$10-13. I would hazard a bet that these are the best prices in town for organic and/or free range chicken. Organic eggs are $2.99-3.99 per dozen. Organic milk is ~$6 per gallon (3.8 litres).

                  2. re: greedygirl

                    Aldi is in the US (mostly East Coast, South & Midwest), same store size, design and layout.. Cheap prices, but unfortunately don't think I've ever seen free-range chicken in Aldi here!

        2. I agree. When I was a student in the UK, my average grocery bill was significantly more expensive in the UK than what I paid in the U.S. My shopping list is usually produce and protein heavy, both of which tend to be more expensive in the UK than the U.S., especially in California where I live now. My friends who have lived for significant periods of time in the UK have had a similar experiences.

          Actually, I remember inviting some students from Europe who were interning with me in LA one summer to a barbecue we were hosting, and they were absolutely shocked at the amount of meat we were grilling because they were so used to it being so expensive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sidwich

            Thanks for the feedback Paulustrious and Sidwich... I guess that explains it... we didn't buy or even check prices on any meat or produce. We tend to pick up cereal, snack items, cookies and things like that to have back at the hotel. Your theory about home cooking vs. restaurant meals is a good one too.

            Yes, I was so jealous of the wonderful selection of yogurt... perhaps in time we'll get the same kind of variety here! Thanks again!

          2. I am going to agree with the OP. I am a Brit living in Florida and was surprised on a recent trip back to Blighty how much cheaper food and supermarket goods are in England compared to the US pound for dollar. Staples like bread milk eggs cereals are way cheaper and so are fruit and vegetables and the variety and quality of produce far far far exceeds that which I can buy in Florida.

            1 Reply
            1. re: smartie

              Really? Honestly, that was my distinct impression...glad to have the confirmation... just wish I knew why!

            2. I spend a fair amount of time in the UK every year.

              At a typical British supermarket versus a typical American supermarket:

              Baked goods, eggs, dairy, cheese are all higher quality and cheaper.

              Produce tends to be slightly more expensive, but will also be more seasonal, so fruits in the spring and summer are outstanding.

              Meats are more expensive, but I have always preferred to buy from a butcher and I pay a fair price for the quality I buy.

              Prepared foods is legendary and is not only better quality but cheaper than in the US.

              American supermarkets will have a wider range of foodstuff on offering, but British supermarkets have greater depth among the goods offered. The variety of sugar, coffee, dairy products, produce and so forth is impressive.

              British people do not dine out nearly to the extent Americans do, but there is a lot of takeaway.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Roland Parker

                Roland I will agree with you on all counts pretty much, it is amazing how many types of sugars for example are available in the UK compared to America and for sure the dairy sections of British supermarkets are unbelievable. When I lived in London my local Tescos had stocked aisles both sides full to bursting with yoghurts, cheeses, butters, creams, etc and a deli counter packed to the brim with more cheeses.

                Prepared foods at stores like Marks and Spencers are the kiss of death to home cooking! I have yet to buy anything bad or not incredible there.

                1. re: smartie

                  What I miss is the takeout curries in the supermarket.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    omg so do I.

                    1. re: smartie

                      In the UK? Which supermarkets? I say this as a UK resident interested in the range of supermarket ready meals.

                      1. re: Lizard

                        M and S - all their meals are fab. Tescos, Sainsbury's and Waitrose all make perfectly good ready to eat stuff. You cannot get anything like it in America except for some under par frozen stuff.

                        1. re: smartie

                          We have Tesco here in Arizona--it's called Fresh and Easy here in the states. I have to say it has excellent prices and the quality is generally high. I'm extremely picky about pre-prepared foods and I haven't had anything I like from F&E (the texture just isn't quite right, but then again, I don't like a lot of leftovers for the same reason). My husband, who is less discriminating, loves their stuff.

                          1. re: modthyrth

                            F&E's chicken noodle soup bowls are pretty good, and I'm not usually a big fan of chicken noodle soup unless it's homemade. Their "grocery store" sushi rolls are quite tasty as well and don't seem to have that weird mushy rice texture that so many others do. I like the field greens salad with the balsamic dressing, also. I bought all of these right after the markdowns one day to try as I'm not usually a big fan of pre-prepared foods. I might actually pay full price for them again. They were great for work lunches. I haven't tried any of the heat-up meals as they don't look very appetizing to me when they are sitting there all cold and congealed. I don't think their prices are the best in town, but they are competitive. I am a bit disappointed that they seem to be bringing in more "typical" products/brands that you can find at any other store. For me, that takes away the uniqueness and thus, my reason to shop there.

                        2. re: Lizard

                          Lizard

                          Rather than the pre-packaged curries, you'll be better off in one of the supermarkets that have a "curry bar", when you can buy whatever portion size you need. My local Sainsbury normally has half a dozen or so main courses, together with the usual range of starters and sundries. As with pre-packaged, they just go in the microwave - or as Mrs H descibes them "chicken PING".

                          1. re: Harters

                            I'm sure I would be better off in one of those supermarkets. Unfortunately, I have yet to find one in my immediate environs.

                  2. re: Roland Parker

                    I think everything you said up to (but not incl.) the last paragraph mirrors that of Canada (just substitute "British" for "Canadian", at least for our metropolitan areas.

                  3. Well we have the facilities to compare. We have people in the US, Canada and the UK. Now all we have to do is get a few prices. So I'll start a basic list and see how it goes. We can adjust for quantity.

                    500gm / 1 pound of butter
                    2lb / kilo of sugar
                    10lb of flour (plain white)
                    1 litre / quart of basic plain yoghurt.
                    2lb bag of frozen 'sweet' peas
                    18 inch pizza (basic, maybe some sliced salami stuff)
                    Tin of chickpeas
                    lamb chops (per pound)
                    sirloin & tenderloin steaks
                    canadian / back / peameal bacon
                    dozen eggs
                    milk
                    country pate (rough chop)
                    Olives (pack 'em in a plastic container type)
                    3L canola / rapeseed oil
                    simple sliced loaf in a plastic bag
                    a baguette (and a proper one, not just a skinny white loaf)
                    An artisinal bread - say a ciabatta
                    1lb apples
                    oranges
                    grapes
                    cabbage
                    10 / 25 lb potatoes
                    bunch of cilantro / corriander
                    500gm Italian spaghetti
                    1 pint 35% (ish) cream
                    baked beans / pork and beans
                    1lb blue mountain coffee ...and...
                    large box of teabags

                    That should do. If people are interested I'll build a spreadsheet on google docs which we can all update.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: Paulustrious

                      I'm in! I'll do the U.S. prices... I can probably get them this weekend. Watch this space. Not sure how to use Google docs though...

                      1. re: 60s Girl

                        Ok, I've tried to create it and grant access to everybody. I'll lock it down when it is basically filled in.

                        http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?ke...

                        Can someone verify that they can change it?

                        A couple of 'rules' to give this some credence.

                        1) Try stick with similar quantities. I know 56lb of spuds is cheap in the UK and half a cow is bargain in the US
                        2) Just put in the quantity and price in your currency. I'll try and get the formulas right next time. This doesn't work quite like Excel unfortunately.
                        3) Add a line or two if you think there's another food that should be included. Say salmon. Avoid national things like black pudding or grits.

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          I tried to enter $6.50 for the pizza for Canada and the spreadsheet won't let me put the '0' in...its probably just me?

                          1. re: LJS

                            No - it just thinks the '0' is irrelevant. I haven't worked out the formatting rules yet, and it looks like I cannot duplicate formulae. If you like you can put in 6.49. It's not going to make much difference.
                            If anybody knows their way round google spreadsheets I will happily relinquish the reins. Otherwise you will have to wait till I've overcome the learning curve / kerb / curb.

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              The natural default is rounding. I've cleaned it up a little and have it going to two decimal places and adding in the pound sign for the UK column

                          2. re: Paulustrious

                            I havnt the time to do this with UK pricing but if anyone wants a shot, log on to one of our major mid-range supermarket chains - Sainsbury or Tesco - and go to the "home delivery shop". You should be able to get most prices - although you will need to readjust for quantity. Our pack sizes will almost certainly be smaller. 10lbs of flour ? That's two bags of potatoes! Pack sizes will be metric.

                            1. re: Harters

                              I took a look at the prices on Sainsbury's site (Tesco required registration). They don't seem any lower to me; in fact, almost everything seemed higher. That being said, metro-Phoenix is one of the most competitive grocery markets in the country, so I'm sure our prices are lower than many other places in the US. I know my friends that live in Chicago and Denver are envious of my low grocery bills.

                        2. re: Paulustrious

                          Can a Canadian play, too? I am always struck by how much more I get for my grocery dollar when we go to our camp in Maine than what I pay here in Canada-but I'd like to quantify!

                          1. re: LJS

                            For identical products, US is definitely cheaper.

                            But broadly speaking (regulations, quality and gov't standards aside), ALL meats, dairy (cheeses, milk, ice cream, butter), eggs and processed foods are 20-40% cheaper at a typical US supermarket than in Canada. Mind you, those industries are also more subsidized in the US than they are in Canada.

                            An article about why Canadian cheeses cost more:

                            http://www.vancouverobserver.com/food...

                          2. re: Paulustrious

                            OK - here's what I'd pay for some of the above.

                            Butter - about 90p for half a pound of unsalted
                            Flour - £1.50ish for organic plain white (non-organic much cheaper)
                            Yoghurt - slightly less than £2 for a litre of greek-style yoghurt
                            Chickpeas - three tins for a £1 in a local market
                            Bacon - I think it's around £5 a pound in my butcher for the proper, dry-smoked stuff. Regular bacon is about £4,
                            Sirloin steak - around £7 a pound, again at my local butcher - excellent quality, properly sourced
                            Eggs - I pay about £1.20 for half a dozen large, free-range organic eggs
                            Milk - I always buy organic. Around £1 a litre
                            Olives - totally depends on the quality. My favourite marinated olives are about £1.30 for 100g at the local deli
                            Canola - comes in 1 litre bottles here. Less than a pound a bottle, I think
                            Sliced loaf - never buy it but completely depends on the quality
                            Baguette - probably around a pound to £1.50 for a proper artisanal baguette
                            Ciabatta - about the same as a baguette
                            Bunch of coriander - 50p from any number of market stalls near my house
                            Italian spaghetti - I buy De Cecco from the deli and it's £1.30 I think
                            1 pint cream - about a £1 or less
                            teabags - again, depends on the quality. I pay around £2 for my Twinings Earl Grey but bog standard builders tea is less than that.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Hard to do apples to apples comparisons, but at $1.79 Cdn to 1 UK pound, these are typical supermarket prices in Toronto (not necessarily organic):

                              Butter: $2.79/lb = 77p for half pound
                              Eggs: $1.97/dozen = 55 p for six
                              Milk: $3.97/4 l = 55p/l
                              Bacon ("regular", which I believe you call "streaky" bacon):
                              $3.99/lb = 2.22 pounds/lb
                              Fresh baked ciabatta: $3.29 for a 15" round loaf:
                              $3.29 = 1.83 pounds

                              Steak is a whole 'nother question. I can get supermarket quality (Canada Grade "AA"/USDA Select) for $3.99/lb on special. Canada AAA/USDA Choice is rarely available at less than $10/lb (5.58 pounds). And when I want to splurge, and get Canada AAAA/USDA Prime, then $20-25/lb (11-14 pounds) is not unreasonable.

                              1. re: FrankD

                                Where are you getting butter for $2.79 / pound? I have trouble finding butter for $3.99 / pound in Toronto and Ottawa!

                                1. re: vorpal

                                  My local Trader Joe's here in Los Angeles sells butter for $2.79/lb.

                                  1. re: sidwich

                                    Perhaps, but this price list was for Canada, not the US, and is in Canadian dollars.

                                    1. re: vorpal

                                      Ahha. The great international butter discussion! In which case, these prices from my normal mid-range British supermarket (all pack sizes - 250g):

                                      English - 94p
                                      Irish - 95p
                                      British organic - £1.15
                                      French - £1.20
                                      New Zealand - £1.20
                                      Danish - £1.25

                              2. re: greedygirl

                                Thanks Greedygirl. I dunno, with the possible exception of the bacon, sirloin, and artisinal breads, those prices seem really low to me.
                                On a side note, the quality of meat that I get her in Philadelphia supermarkets is abysmal while pricey. I have to go to a butcher to get anything decent. Just as an aside, the quality of meat in New York is much, much better (don't ask me why!)

                            2. Comparing prices will be difficult because it completely depends where you shop.

                              What interests me is that several hounds who are American or who have lived in the US rave about the general quality of the produce here. We had a meet the other night and they were saying that almost everything - meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables - are a lot better on average. Especially meat. Limster was saying that the prosciutto you buy at an ordinary deli here is way better than something you'd get from a fancy place in San Francisco, say.

                              Any views as to why that might be the case?

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: greedygirl

                                if you'll excuse the pun, to some extent it is like comparing apples to oranges. I used to live in London where the selection, turnover, ethnic mix, quality etc is fantastic. I now live in a food wasteland called South Florida (!) which is known for it's poor quality selection of produce (fruit and veg). And it really is bad down here. The supermarkets carry very basic produce, for example there will be one variety of oranges, maybe 3 of tomatoes, 4 of apples, 1 of pears, in season one variety of mandarins (never the seedless satsumas), 1 of onions, never seen rhubarb, gooseberries, or white cabbage and kiwis are rare. By and large the fruit and veg are tasteless, mostly grown for size not taste.

                                I heard that S. Fl doesn't get the good stuff because it goes to NY. Don't know if it's true.

                                I think that prices of all goods vary depending on where you live in the US.

                                I do not think we should be doing exchange rates when comparing US to UK - do it as 1:1 because it is still going to be a percentage of your pay packet which will help compare real costs.

                                1. re: smartie

                                  1:1 doesn't work becomes incomes aren't 1:1. How about a sort of purchasing power parity. Or more simply how about taking average household incomes for each country and finding out what percentage of a week's income this grocery list comprises?

                                  Although this is interesting, we can all admit that this is far from scientific for a number of reasons. For example, the grocery chain I prefer to shop at may differ its prices considerably from one store to another. And if I want to prove that food is inexpensive in my American neighborhood, I could record the cheapest name brand option for each item.

                                  Not trying to discourage. I'll keep following to compare the data.

                                2. re: greedygirl

                                  I think this entirely depends on where in the US people are from. Quality and variety of produce offerings vary wildly from place to place. Compared to where I grew up in Wisconsin, the produce selection in the stores here in Phoenix is huge and fairly nice, probably because we're close to California and also have local farms for a lot of common veg. But, the farmers markets here do not compare to the farmers markets that I went to as a kid in the summer. Those were fantastic. Remember, too, that the UK is close to some of the most renowned food producers in the world and you don't have the import restrictions of the US.

                                  1. re: Jen76

                                    The people I am referring to have lived in some of the biggest and most cosmopolitan US cities - Boston, NYC, San Francisco.

                                    You are right, of course, that we are lucky to get all sorts of fantastic stuff from France/Spain/Italy.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      "The people I am referring to have lived in some of the biggest and most cosmopolitan US cities - Boston, NYC, San Francisco."

                                      And expensive. You just listed 3 of the most expensive cities in the US. ;)

                                      I just read a post by a New Yorker who could not believe that a 1/2 gallon of (non-organic) milk goes for $.88. Maybe not in NYC, but it's a common occurrance here.

                                  2. re: greedygirl

                                    "Any views as to why that might be the case?"

                                    We may not be comparing apples with apples - even English apples with English apples.

                                    I suspect that most Americans (or others who have lived in the States) who are resident in the UK and use the UK board are in London. It is a major world city and not comparable with either other English cities or, for that matter, many other American cities - in terms of its size and diversity.

                                    By comparison, my metropolitian area is Greater Manchester - England's third largest conurbation. I do not know of any deli in the whole area that could serve me a good proscuitto. Or, more to my taste, a decent jamon.

                                    Similarly, I have a sense that those Americans (or others) probably have above average incomes in comparison with most Brits (happy to be corrected, of course). I suspect few work on London Underground or for minimum wage as security guards or as clerks for the local council. Income allows them to follow their CH inclinations and seek out premium products. They are not obliged, as many of us are, to do their shopping at the bottom end supermarkets.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      the recession has bitten deeper here than you think harters. Many people are on $8-10 an hour, many have lost their jobs and homes.

                                      1. re: smartie

                                        I think he meant ex-pat Americans living in the UK.

                                        1. re: smartie

                                          smartie

                                          I understand that. My point was different - it was suggesting that the folk Greedygirl has been talking with probably have a more affluent lifestyle than most Brits and most Americans and can afford to search out the premium products that may be available in London but not elsewhere in the country.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            One was a student. The other is much travelled, and said that the quality of the meat is generally better here regardless of the restaurant in which it is served.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              Ah, apologies GG. Misunderstood - hadnt thought we were talking about restaurant meat.

                                              Yes, in that case, as a general rule of thumb I think we get better meat over here than in the US. Exceptions abound of course. I've had good higher end meals in the US and much incredibly good valued cheap food. And I wonder what the much travelled hound might say about the meat quality in a Harvester restaurant!!!

                                              But I think where British restaurants particularly score is in the mid-range - say the £25 - £35 a head for 3 courses. Luckily, that's my usual sort of place :-)

                                        2. re: Harters

                                          You are right, of course, in many respects. But I think it is possible now to source decent meat and veg in most parts of the country. I got some fantastic lamb from a farmer's shop near Shrewsbury, for example, and my parents live in the culinary wasteland that is Lincolnshire but there is great meat to be had there if you seek it out. I also found some smoked salt at a deli in a small market town near their house - I was amazed!

                                          Can you really not get decent prosciutto in Manchester? I find that hard to believe. For packaged jamon, the stuff that Lidl does isn't bad, and is very reasonably priced.

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            GG.

                                            No, I kid you not about the ham.

                                            And, yes, of course it's possible to source good products. But they are not on the doorstep and as readily accessible as things are for folk in London. I buy most of my meat from an organic farm via the internet. The county has one of the country's best cheese shops - but it's a 70 mile round trip - that's not just popping out for half a kilo of Blue Cheshire, it's a shopping expedition (and the city it's in has nothing else particularly food worthy).

                                          2. re: Harters

                                            I lived in London and shopped in regular supermarkets using my student loan money. I didn't really have the resources to seek out the wonderful produce/groceries that others have mentioned. I do agree that many items in London are superior and comparable in price to what we have in the US, but it's hard for me to compare it to where I've lived before since I haven't lived in any other cities like London. One of the supermarkets I went to in London was about 2-3x the size of our typical supermarkets here, so of course it was going to have a larger selection of cheeses, prepared foods, pastas, and other items. I didn't really buy much (if any) meat because it wasn't in my price range.

                                            1. re: queencru

                                              Size may be important!.

                                              Certainly I've noticed on trips to America that supermarkets seems smaller but wonder if that's because I tend to visit smaller places. Ours tend to be around 30,000 square feet. Is there a US usual size?

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/10/bus...

                                                "Statistics compiled by the Food Marketing Institute show that the average size of a grocery store dipped slightly in 2007 - to a median of 47,500 square feet - after 20 years of steady growth.

                                                The biggest push toward these new stores is coming from the British retailer Tesco, which made a splashy entry into the United States last autumn by opening a 10,000-square-foot Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Las Vegas.

                                                Since then, Tesco has opened 72 more stores in Nevada, Arizona and Southern California."

                                                Trader Joe's stores are about the same size as Fresh & Easy stores.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  American supermarkets tend to be larger generally, but you'll find the largest supermarkets in suburbs or areas where there is lots of new development. In London I typically went to the Sainsbury Local, which was very small and expensive compared to the big Morrisons a little farther away. The Sainsbury Local seemed to focus more on prepared foods and had only a little bit of produce.

                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                    Those "Local" shops are designed for people to pop into on their way home from work to pick up a couple of things, not for major shopping trips. They are expensive and rubbish and I'd rather give my money to my local corner shop.

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      Unfortunately the local is the only option for some people. The Morrison's was designed for drivers, so the road to it was isolated and dangerous for a single woman to walk down alone. After my flatmate had a terrifying experience on that road after dark, we agreed we wouldn't go there alone unless it was daylight. Our fridge held 2-3 days worth of food, so we were sort of limited to the local for most of our shopping trips during the wintertime.

                                              2. re: Harters

                                                Harters:

                                                City or United?

                                                1. re: FrankD

                                                  Frank

                                                  City (you don't choose your team, it's in the genes).

                                                  That said, I now also follow Stockport County as that's where I live.

                                                  John

                                              3. re: greedygirl

                                                Well, Viva Verdi may not be exactly an ordinary deli, but it is my local source for prosciutto and it's much better (sweeter porky flavour) than Boccalone's version in SF. Haven't bought prosciutto anywhere else in London though.

                                                The average ingredient quality seems higher to me from eating in restaurants (London, and mostly SF and Boston). And I still get a kick from being able to get jersey cow's milk with from Sainsbury.

                                              4. As a Brit living in the US, I couldn’t help but chime in here……yes, its true some things are much less expensive in UK supermarkets compared to the US – biscuits (cookies), crackers, cakes and baked beans for instance. IMO though, when shopping on a UK salary in a UK supermarket it’s not less. Many Brit’s don’t earn as much as we do in comparable jobs. Home prices are higher there compared to here, so some Brit’s have smaller budgets when it comes to food shopping. My family and friends across the pond feel that food prices are extremely high in relation to their salaries and budgets.

                                                36 Replies
                                                1. re: charlieboy

                                                  The proportion of our income spent on food has declined dramatically in the past 30 years. It's only around 10-15% now, although the lower your income, the greater the proportion you spend on food. And the reality is that food is comparatively cheap. People have more disposable income than they have ever had, but being human, it's never enough!

                                                  1. re: charlieboy

                                                    Well that's interesting... so you're saying that lower "across the board" salaries in the U.K., combined with higher home (and gas) prices level the playing field, so to speak. I can see that. I still think the overall quality (value for money) and variety may be better though.

                                                    1. re: 60s Girl

                                                      I am not so sure that the UK has lower "across the board" salaries. I think it's probably too complex a comparison to realistically work out. Certainly, it's probably possible to to get information on average national earnings but I wouldnt be sure how much this helps. You would probably need to find a number of very comparable jobs and then look at net take home pay, after tax deductions. And, certainly, I have sense that house prices are generaly higher in the UK (but we have some vast regional differences).

                                                      But here's one price for - based on a Lidl advert tonight - bottle of Californian rose zinfandel = £3 (which, of course, includes our very high alcohol taxes)

                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        I get the impression that wine is way cheaper in the UK. But Lidl wine is, by and large, terrible (some of it is undrinkable).

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          Thanks for the Lidl warning (I'm more an Aldi bloke)!

                                                          I used to enjoy good wine but have been on the wagon for 10 years now. Mrs H has always drunk sparingly - perhaps a glass with dinner. Because of this, she uses wine boxes rather than bottles. As an aside, we brought quite a few back from France earlier in the year. Certainly they were still cheaper than the UK, but not that significantly (a combination of increased tax in France and a lousy exchange rate) - I used to reckon on recouping the ferry fare just on wine boxes.

                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            We brought back a ton of wine this year as well - I think the price:quality ratio is still excellent, and I enjoy getting the recommendations of the guy who runs the caves in Boulogne.

                                                            (Aldi have a much better wine buyer btw. We love their sparking Chardonnay.)

                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              Please excuse me for jumping in. This is my first post here. I recently relocated to Washington DC from London and in my despair at the first couple of weeks shopping in supermarkets here in DC, random googlings led me to this thread.

                                                              I have not collected any data so this is all very subjective and anecdotal but my initial impression is that groceries here in DC are a good deal more expensive than in UK supermarkets. This is particularly so for bakery and dairy products. A block of butter seems to be between $3.50 and 5 in the US. In the UK I would pay less than GBP1 for a similar quantity of Waitrose unsalted butter. A pack of pitta breads costs me 46p in Waitrose. Here they are a few bucks.

                                                              Further, my first impression is that while variety is pretty good at places like Trader Joes and Whole Foods - both of the latter charge a hefty premium for that choice (WF particularly so) and yet there are still items which routinely appear in my shopping basket in the UK which I cannot find here in DC. For example, I wanted to buy dry salted capers but can only find jars of liquid preserved capers. I also have been unable to find either sun dried tomato puree or dried whole red Kashmiri chillis. The GIA sun dried tomato paste which Waitrose stocks for under a quid appears to be available online here in the US but for nearly $5 a tube.

                                                              In the UK, these sorts of ingredients are certainly not to be found exclusively in London. My folks live in the West Midlands and buy similar stuff in supermarkets there. Being not so far from Herefordshire they also obtain a wide range of locally reared meat and have the pleasure of being a stone's throw from Ludlow, that foodies' paradiese. I have to say the cuts I have seen in DC supermarkets look particularly unappealing by comparison with the slabs of Hereford that my folks serve up at home.

                                                              Wine here seems quite expensive compared to the UK too and the range of wine in US supermarkets is somewhat limited - particularly for European wine although this is unsurprising in a massive country that produces plenty of great wine itself. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong place and should be directing my search to dedicated wine merchants? Many of the things which I routinely pick up at Waitrose on my way home from work but cannot find at Trader Joes do appear to be available online.

                                                              Finally, another subjective and anecdotal impression which I am forming after a few weeks here is that while there are good grocery shops in DC catering to a wide variety of tastes there is a preponderance of processed and pre-packed food. In Whole Foods' largest Washington store I went to the deli counter to look for hams - I didn't want a whole pack - just a few slices. No hams were displayed but the guy on the deli counter explained that they had three varieties in the fridge. So I picked up some nice smoked Virginia ham which was really delicious but I was surprised that in this supermarket so often touted as THE place to shop gourmet in the US, I had fewer than half a dozen hams to choose from.

                                                              Without wishing to offend anyone I have to say that the way in which Whole Foods is put on a pedestal by some here in the US says more about the otherwise abysmal experience of US grocery shopping rather than about particular qualities of Whole Foods itself. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that many British supermarkets manage to offer wider choice of similar quality at a better price.

                                                              I am excited about my move to the US but so far, a few weeks in, I am dearly missing UK grocery shopping.

                                                              1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                No, you will not find ingredients such as salt-packed capers, sundried tomato puree, or dried whole Kashmiri chiles at most American supermarkets, nor many hams. However, specialty groceries and markets carrying products of specific cuisines do carry them, and are certainly to be found in DC. If you need help sourcing these items, you could post a query on Chowhound's DC board.

                                                                Also, yes, you need to look to wine shops for diverse wine selection. And Trader Joe's is not considered a full-service supermarket; it has a limited range, and it's better to go there for the particular things they carry than looking for specific products, as they mostly deal in their branded items, plus nuts, dried fruits, vitamins, and so on.

                                                                1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                  I also wonder if supermarkets carry a limited range of wines depending on which states allow the sales of wine in supermarkets.

                                                                  I'm also of two minds with the Britons (in place or ex-pat) declaring the UK to be a better wine spot. Now, while London is clearly better for choice, I have found that my move from NYC to Scotland has laid to waste my ability to try a range of new wines at affordable prices. I have found that wines that were marketed as plonk and table wine in NYC, decent wines, but not terribly impressive have been more expensive in these parts. There are drinkable wines, and to be fair, by being in Scotland and not NYC, I'm hardly in wine country (by which I mean a place where I can stroll the streets and come across one wine shop after another, offering tastings and the like). Still, I've hardly been impressed. I love the range of whisky, of course, and the price is decent, but even then, I've had friends who check out liquor warehouses in the states who feel that the price is about the same.

                                                                  In the case of comparing only by supermarket, there are bound to be problems, because in certain places, some of the shopping is done in shops.

                                                                  As for people loving Wholefoods, I've got to imagine that it must be a source of delight for many in DC who have had absolute rubbish as options. The various safeways have been lame, and some years ago there was that scandal about the suburban safeways sending the produce about to turn to the safeways in the city. There were some larger fancy stores about, but yes, the point is that people are made to pay dearly for fresh and edible produce.

                                                                  But finally, I wonder if this observation about the comparative affordability of produce between the two nations will invite some thinking about the repeated attempts to make the grocery shopping/eating habits a value judgement devoid of political/social/economic context.

                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                    Not sure whereabouts you are in Scotland, but there's a great place I've ordered online from in Edinburgh for wine - greatgrog.co.uk
                                                                    I have no affiliation whatsoever - just received excellent service and from the regular emails they send out, sounds like they do tastings all over Scotland. Also offer a good variety of interesting wines at (IMO) reasonable prices.

                                                                    1. re: juniper77

                                                                      And , of course, nationwide wine chain, Majestic, has a number of branches in Scotland - Aberdeen, Ayr, Edinburgh, Giffnock, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Sterling. Always tastings in stores (currently South African wines) and free delivery anywhere on the mainland if you buy a case (mixed)

                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                        I've had cases delivered from Averys of Bristol before. They're very good and deliver nationwide.

                                                                        1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                          Cheers all for delivery information. I've been aware of some, although not all.

                                                                    2. re: Lizard

                                                                      With regard to wine, you aren't going to get the same selection of US wine here, the good stuff just hasn'te penetrated the market. ASDA once sold a Chateau St Michelle Merlot, sadly no more, all cheap CA plonk now. So with that in mind, you have to shift your focus to Europe and we get some really wonderful French, German, Spanish, and Italian wines that you can't find in the US.

                                                                      I would suggest Wine Society membership. Always a very nice list on offer at many price points and delivery throughout the country.

                                                                      I've also recently had very good service from Waitrose Wine direct who offer free delivery on a mixed case. They often have new and interesting choices that are on offer.

                                                                      Additionally, there are a number of very good independent merchants, I've had good bottles from Cadman's before.

                                                                    3. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                      Whole Foods is called "Whole Paycheck" for a reason. You're not going to go there and find great bargains, so if you're comparing the prices you see there to what you pay in the UK, you'll be disappointed. I also agree with Caitlin that you'll probably have to go to specialty markets to get certain items. There are a few grocery stores in my area that are happy to cut as many or as few pieces of ham as you want, but to get variety you probably have to go elsewhere. I lived in one area near Amish communities that sold delicious meat and cheese, but you typically had to drive out to the markets to buy those items.

                                                                      I don't think of supermarkets as the place to buy wine. Most people go to dedicated wine stores for that.

                                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                                        Depends on which state. In South Florida the supermarkets sold the vast majority of wine. Liquor was in a specialty store.In New York I got the impression wine was sold in wine and liquor stores (except for vinyards). I may be wrong but all the beer was sold in different stores. In the UK supermarkets sell all three. Some supermarkets in the UK have vast wine areas, but the majority is still sold in stores selling beer, wine and liquor. These go by the odd name of off-licences.

                                                                        Here we have the real problem - comparing 5 oranges with a kilogram of apples. In Florida circa 2000 if you wanted organic stuff then you had to visit a speciality store. In the UK that was not true. In Toronto it is gradually changing and many upper-level supermarkets have an aisle of organic produce. Incidentally, Canada has only just introduced a legal organic labeling procedure.

                                                                        Ironic addendum.. My US based spell checker doesn't like the word speciality - it insists it should be specialty.

                                                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                          "These go by the odd name of off-licences."

                                                                          Off-licences are closing in their droves faced with competition from the supermarkets (and the continued import of bootleg booze from France). Generally, they are not the place to go for decent wine.

                                                                          (PS: "Off-licence" - a place licenced to sell booze for consumption off the premises, as opposed to a bar or pub licenced for consumption "on". )

                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                            I haven't lived in the UK for 15 years, so I am sure you are right. And to QueenCru below, I haven't lived in Miami for almost 8 years. So take my outdated opinion with a dose of salts. (And you think YOU have seasonal issues?? Try Canada)

                                                                            ps Hartners, I am not going to let you off scot free. It should have read 'a place licensed'.

                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                              "ps Hartners, I am not going to let you off scot free. It should have read 'a place licensed'."

                                                                              It should have read "Harters". :-0

                                                                              But that's OK, I don't claim to be able to spell or type very well.

                                                                          2. re: Paulustrious

                                                                            I think it must be very regional because I'm in Central Florida and most people here wine shop at wine stores. I know here a lot of the wine stores cropped up after 2000, so it may be the changes in the area and what people want. Publix stores now have a Greenwise area that is dedicated to organic/all-natural stuff, and it has its own Greenwise stores as well. We recently had a piece on the local news about how you can find local/organic in Publix and other area supermarkets and what limitations you'll face due to the seasonal issues we have here.

                                                                            1. re: queencru

                                                                              Seasonal and production issues are a signifciant matter for the organic eater in the UK. Demand far outstrips the supply from home production so we rely heavily on imports. It becomes ridiculous from a wider "green" perspective and I will not always play the organic game. For example, around December last year, the only organic onions in my supermarket were from Argentina. That's a veg we can grow happily in northern Europe and one that stores well - as opposed to freighting it thousands of miles.

                                                                        2. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                          Limehouse, I hear ya! These are my sentiments exactly! Thanks for the post... now if someone could explain why...

                                                                          1. re: 60s Girl

                                                                            As to why? I'm not sure. On the whole - although this is a sweeping generalisation by no means true for all - people earn more here in the US and so relatively, the price difference is probably not actually as pronounced as it appears to someone like me who has more or less just stepped off the plane. I daresay I will stop noticing the price thing after a while.

                                                                            As for the different range of products - I'm not sure - though ultimately it's likely a demand question. While there is - in my view - a better range of quality food products in British supermarkets, I notice that trolleys and baskets in UK supermarket aisles are often still stacked with processed junk and ready made meals. I'm a guy in my late 20s and I learned to cook at home - my mum teaches home economics and I'm lucky to have grown up with good home cooked food. Many of my friends, particularly blokes, cook very little and so when they go to the supermarket in London, despite being faced with an array of wonderful ingredients, they will still reach for a ready made pizza or a microwavable curry. I don't think any of my mates back in London have ever baked bread or a cake - activities which I enjoy on a Sunday afternoon.

                                                                            That said, for UK supermarkets to stock such a diverse range of decent produce there is clearly demand for it. How they get it to the shelves - the food miles involved, the small producers that get screwed - poses a range of other questions. But there is clerly demand from British supermarket shoppers for, say, sun dried tomato puree or several varieties of goats cheese.

                                                                            I'm sure if there was sufficient demand from US supermarket shoppers for this sort of thing then supermarkets here would carry it. Profitable and successful enterprises afterall give the customer what the customer wants at a price it is prepared to pay. That Walmart is so successful tells us something about the preferences of quite a large number of US consumers. By the same token, the increasing obesity and generally poor diet of much of the British population would suggest that comparatively few Brits avail of the opportunity afforded them by the well stocked shelves of British supermarkets, to eat healthy food which they have prepared themselves.

                                                                            1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                              It seems like you've only really checked out a few DC stores and are making generalizations about stores nationwide. I know in the 2 places I've lived in the past year, there are (non WF) stores that carry great produce and others that have a fairly pathetic selection. You're also in an urban area that is one of the more expensive in the US, and food prices there are probably higher than what you'd see elsewhere in the country.

                                                                              1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                                What you say about income level and demand make sense to me.

                                                                                Personally, I've never found supermarket chains to be particularly interested in what I need/want/request. However, I'm sure on some kind of a "macro" level, they are doing research, focus groups or whatever and make their stocking decisions based on those.

                                                                            2. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                              "Indeed, I would go so far as to say that many British supermarkets manage to offer wider choice of similar quality at a better price."

                                                                              And yet, and yet.. when I watch "Jamie's School House Dinners", it seems that most British kids won't eat anything but burgers and chips. I'm not defending US or Canadian eating practices (any culture that produces Big Macs and Pizza Pizza has no right to put down anyone else!), but I find it hard to believe that an island of 60 million has that much better food, that less expensive, than a continent of 360 million (US & Canada). I already posted a comparison above that shows food prices in my part of Canada are significantly less than the UK prices posted. Dry salted capers? Never seen them; on the other hand, do you get Montreal smoked meat in the UK? Fiddleheads? Fresh blueberries?

                                                                              I'll concede that wine and cheese are much better in the UK than in Ontario, thanks to our over-arching nanny state that forbids raw milk, and monopolizes alcohol. But within a few kilometres of my home, I have a couple of Italian bakeries, a Jewish bakery that makes wonderful bagels, challah, etc., a Korean supermarket, many Chinese groceries, two fantastic specialty grocers that have incredible (if pricey) meats, and a number of "regular" supermarkets that offer wide selections of Indian/Asian foods in addition to North American staples. I can eat like a king on less than $50/week (of course, I don't eat out much or buy a lot of pre-processed foods).

                                                                              My only complaint in Canada is we only get decent tomatoes for a few months of the year. Canned are fine for pastas, stews, etc., but for the brief time I get to enjoy them, nothing beats a fresh tomato sandwich.

                                                                              1. re: FrankD

                                                                                "My only complaint in Canada is we only get decent tomatoes for a few months of the year."

                                                                                And not even that this year.

                                                                                1. re: FrankD

                                                                                  "I find it hard to believe that an island of 60 million has that much better food, that less expensive, than a continent of 360 million (US & Canada)"

                                                                                  Size of population is not especially relevant. And in this age of mega food miles, neither is the suitability of the land for agriculture. Look at Dubai. Whether it is a good or a bad thing to fly blueberries across oceans so that joggers in Primrose Hill can sprinkle them on their porridge in the morning or hotel chefs in Dubai can drop them into a desert poses other questions.

                                                                                  Britain has long been a net importer of food. Today the variety of food Britain imports is diverse - much more so than only 20 years ago.

                                                                                  You make a fair point about British school dinners - though I had already noted the deleterious diet of most Brits in my previous post. Even more appalling than school dinners is hospital food. I believe one recent survey showed that prisoners in British jails received a more nutritious diet than hospital inpatients!

                                                                                  That Britain and the US both have high rates of diabetes and levels of obesity are facts. That US supermarkets stock a less exciting range of ingredients and that food prices are higher in the US than in the UK is simply an assertion I make backed up but nothing other than my own anecdotal and limited experience. Time will tell whether I remain of the same opinion. I'm here for two years so we'll see.

                                                                                  1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                                    "Britain has long been a net importer of food. Today the variety of food Britain imports is diverse - much more so than only 20 years ago."

                                                                                    Are you claiming this as a good thing or bad thing? To be clear, I'd suggest that the rush to imports over the last 20 years has not only had an adverse effect on our farming businesses, wholesale veg markets and local greengrocery shops but, also, detracts from folk eating cheap seasonal food. I accept we've always had to import - you can't grow oranges in North Cheshire.

                                                                                    1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                                      As a side note, it's worthwhile noting that some imported items in the UK may have travelled shorter distances than items moved domestically in the US (e.g. CA to NYC compared to Italy to UK).

                                                                                      1. re: Limehouse_link

                                                                                        "That US supermarkets stock a less exciting range of ingredients and that food prices are higher in the US than in the UK is simply an assertion I make backed up but nothing other than my own anecdotal and limited experience."

                                                                                        "Anecdotal and limited"... absolutely agreed on those counts.

                                                                                      2. re: FrankD

                                                                                        Yes on fresh blueberries.

                                                                                        1. re: limster

                                                                                          Blueberries are often in my supermarket - grown in Poland. Currently 125g - £1.

                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                            I think the season here is short...but managed to snag British blueberries and raspberries at supermarkets near me.

                                                                                            1. re: limster

                                                                                              You almost never have a problem finding British raspberries throughout summer and autumn. They're commercially grown throughout the country so there's a succession of produce, starting probably around Herefordshire and now well into Scotland.

                                                                                              I see that this is the first year when there has really been any commercial blueberry crop here

                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                Cool, my lucky year. :)

                                                                        3. One thing I believe is missing from this discussion is the fact that it is easier to "shop the specials" in the US and to use coupons to cut your bill dramatically.

                                                                          While there are specials here, they aren't as good (usually 20-30% off or buy one get one), don't change as often, and aren't as on many products. We also don't have coupons that come out in the newspaper every Sunday. With this in mind, prices here are more stable, and your shop one week tends to cost the same as the next.

                                                                          As for quality of produce, I disagree. I think the fruit and vegetables here are appalling, but I'm from Seattle which is somewhat famed for the quality and variety of produce.

                                                                          However, I am impressed that seems to be much more of wide spread focus on sustainibility and ethical practice. I also like being able to go into M&S after a really long day at work and pick up a reasonably healthy halfway prepared meal that doesn't break the bank and is a significant savings over eating out.

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: nanette

                                                                            "I think the fruit and vegetables here are appalling"

                                                                            I think there can be great differences in qualitywithin a small geographical area (I'm excluding supermarkets here as they purchase on a national basis usually). I live in North Cheshire, on the southern fringes of Greater Manchester. Fruit and veg tend to be of very indifferent quality in local greengrocery shops. However, drive round to the northern towns in the conurbation, like Bolton and Bury, and the quality improves dramatically. And, no, I can't explain it either.

                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                              I'm going to rephrase this, I was eating a truly horrible peach at the time which coloured my judgment.

                                                                              Fruit here can be appalling. I've bad experiences at supermarkets, markets, and in my veg box. No explaining it. The veg, when local to the UK and fresh is very good, and very flavourful.

                                                                              1. re: nanette

                                                                                I've all but given up on things like peaches from the supermarket.

                                                                                The end was nigh when they started to to label them "ripen in fruit bowl". As if!

                                                                                The latest Sainsbury con is to label them "best eaten crisp". On a peach!!!!!

                                                                                That said, there's been some fab British apples appearing in the last couple of weeks. Can't wait for the local Cheshire ones to be in greengrocers. There's a feast waiting to happen - Kelsall apples, Bourne's Cheshire cheese, bread from the Barbaken Bakery, my own pickled onions (last couple of Kilners of the 2008 vintage)

                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                  If you're a fan of apples, you'll have to try a honey crunch (or honey crisp) apple, those are my favourites. Closest thing you get over here to a WA state apple.

                                                                                  1. re: nanette

                                                                                    I'll look out for it.

                                                                                    By way of swapsies, may I offer Howgate Wonder. A cooker that's just a tad sweeter than Bramley. Only discovered it last year at the farm shop of one the orchards at Kelsall.

                                                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                                                    "best eaten CRISP"??? on a PEACH??

                                                                                    They must be nucking futs.

                                                                                  3. re: nanette

                                                                                    Don't eat peaches in the UK - the climate is wrong for them. Blackberries, raspberries and rhubarb do well. Not that you ever need to buy fresh ones unless you live in the city. They grow everywhere. There is a wider variety of apples. They also (in Toronto anyway) have no true cooking apples. They consider Granny Smith the perfect cooker.

                                                                                    And come to think of it - potatoes. I rarely (make that never) go into a shop and see six varieties of spud. Here in Canada it is very difficult to get new potatoes. I'm guessing it is because the ground is so cold all the way till May. Many veg in the UK survive into the new year. This includes leeks and parsnips that can survive in their little subterranean holes. Cabbage and sprouts (ugh) also survive well.

                                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                      The problem we have with supermarket peaches is that they're grown in, say, Italy, But, beause they need to transport them and the supermarkets want a long shelf life, they are picked very under-ripe. They never properly ripen (melons are the same).

                                                                                      We used to haev a great greengrocer near where I live. Nick would go to the wholesale market and buy what was good. He knew his trade. Meant you could ripe peaches. He left the business. The owner, who is not a greengrocer by trade, now uses a single wholesale supplier who delivers. Means we can't get ripe peaches even there.

                                                                                      Berries are damned good at present - blackberry, raspberry & tayberry

                                                                              2. It's been interesting reading this thread.

                                                                                When I was in London back in August, there was a reference in one of the newspapers that Whole Foods, which now has three stores in London, is operating all of them at a substantial loss and has yet to see any profit in the three years the stores have been open.

                                                                                My first thought was: no wonder. Half the population only cares for junk food and the other half already has Waitrose, so why bother to go to Whole Foods? I have to say I was pleased to read of WF's failure, for if anything, it's a step back from homogenization.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                  I think part of the problem with whole foods in London is that the locations don't really make sense. I lived near the Camden branch and had no clue it was even there. Camden Town has two large supermarkets with ample parking, so there's no reason why people nearby would go to a smaller Whole Foods. During the weekends it's more of a tourist destination, so much so that when I lived there the tube was not even open to people entering for part of the weekend. Kensington High Street is also very touristy, not to mention an insanely expensive location. WF would have done better to choose areas not for their tourist appeal because there's a solid residential population with a lack of decent supermarkets.

                                                                                2. i live in the us. never been to england but i can tell you that i just went and looked at prices at your markets online and my markets online and you guys have it real good. i'm not talking about just the price or selection, i'm talking about no gmo and fresh compared to the usa.
                                                                                  lets start with bread. here a loaf of the cheapest of the cheap runs about $1.00. that's about 50p. sounds good til i find that your cheap of the cheap is 20p. like 1/2 of what i pay. and if, god forbid, i want no gmo whole grain bread. i would spend - i am not exagerating at all- about $7.00/loaf. that's what? about 3 pounds? for a loaf of bread.
                                                                                  then the butter i spend, on sale, $2.50 (3.00-3.50 regular price) for 1lb of butter. i see you guys spend about a pound for more butter.
                                                                                  frozen foods? peas for instance. 2lbs. of peas for 1 pound-okay i know it's confusing but i don't have the pound symbol on my keyboard- i pay $1.00 for 8oz of peas in the dollar store.
                                                                                  don't mention to me the prepared meals section. i saw something i would drool over-lamb- not even available here in 99% of markets. you have to goto a specialty market and it would cost about $6.00/lb easy! I saw goat at a butchers the other day. the cut it all the same size. no special cuts. bone in everything. frozen. not fresh and it was $20.00 for 3lbs of goat.
                                                                                  fish here is only cheap if you go get it yourself, otherwise you're gonna pay through the nose. and i live on the coast.

                                                                                  for alcohol, the state i live in you can only buy it at a liquor store, that includes the beer and wine. not every state is like that but mine is. and it's seems to still be cheaper there than here. Here you have your national brands-coors, bud, miller, old milkwaulkee, pabst, -no wait those last two are owned by miller, that's three. if i want say New Castle Brown Ale- i can get it. it's at the great old imported price of about $1.50/bottle, that's right, a bottle, and beer in delaware is cheap compared to say, virginia-where the liqour tax is higher. Tesco's is running the same for a four pack just 1.98 pounds. a four pack! can you image? i'd be an alcoholic! I pay for my favorite-Dogfish Head (a local brewery-as in less than 20 miles from my house local) about $9.00/6 pack- which is pretty cheap for good beer. in case your math is bad-that's over $1.00/bottle-for local!
                                                                                  yep you guys have it good. p.s. i am in the low wage earner's section- less than $25,000 usd a year and i make too much for government help. so i don't drink much beer. i am trying to hard to pay the $850.00/month in rent and the $150.00 in electric, the $200.00/month in heat (on the budget plan) and the $150.00/month on car insurance-which i need because not having a car in the usa is like not having any money for the bus and having two broken legs.