I decided to do a little experiment today. A number of gringa-in-Chile bloggers have posted recently about how much they spend on groceries (see the list here), so I figured I would make a contribution by doing a little market research. Plus, I was all out of food.
The mission: compare fruit and vegetable prices at the neighborhood street market, where vendors set up stalls every Sunday, and the HiperLíder.
I hit the market first and purchased the following:
2 giant cucumbers: $200 (all prices are in Chilean pesos)
1 cantaloupe: $400
1 kilo of nectarines: $250
3/4 kilo of lemons: $150
1 kilo of plums: $250
3/5 kilo of pears: $150
1 green pepper: $100
1/2 kilo of blackberries: $600
TOTAL: $2,100, or US$3.41 according to the current exchange rate
My shopping bag bulging, I then trekked to the HiperLíder and prowled the produce section with notebook in hand. Had I bought the same products there, this is what I would have paid:
2 cucumbers (smaller than the ones at the market): $538
1 cantaloupe: $599
1 kilo of nectarines: $449
1 kilo of plums: $389
3/5 kilo of pears: $419
3/4 kilo of lemons: $368
1 green pepper (bigger than the one from the market): $189
TOTAL (minus the blackberries, which I couldn't find at HiperLíder): $2,951, or US$4.79
If we take the blackberries out of the mix, we get a total of $1,500 (US$2.44) at the market compared to $2,951 (US$4.79) --almost double the price -- at HiperLíder. Which just goes to show that the savings really do add up when you trade in your shopping cart for a flour sack and take to the streets.
Obviously, one of the things you pay for when you go to a supermarket is convenience. And I picked up a few things at HiperLíder today that I never would have found at the street market, like new tupperware and the all-important peanut butter. But I feel better knowing that when it comes to items for which I have a choice -- like fruits and veggies -- I'm giving my money to the little guys (and gals), who probably need it now more than ever.
Also, I might not be able to afford the peanut butter otherwise.