Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday experiment

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.


Maeskizzle said...

Nice. Thanks for posting that, Leigh. It's interesting and useful.

Abby said...

Yeah that was great! Where is this market that you go to? I need to find one close to my house because I don't feel like schlepping to La Vega. Also, I need to invest in a flour sack.

Julie said...

Either one sounds very cheap to me. A cantaloupe here will run you about
US$3.00 and the green pepper about US$1.00.

lydia said...

sweet. blackberries? i have never even seen blackberries in Chile. They're probably here hidden somewhere, but assuming they should be near the raspberries and strawberries, I haven't ever seen them while I've been in that section. mmmhm!

One reason I shop at Lider sometimes for the same stuff as the market is quality, and visable cleanliness. Sometimes the outdoor market stuff seems like they're the reject section. Also the closest markets by where I live are really dirty. I always see them drop food on the ground and put it back with the new stuff, and there are dogs in the store and cats walking on top of the food. Obviously itll be washed and theres no guarantee or what happens behind the scenes at Lider but sometimes its just a mental thing...

una gringuita in Chile said...

Lydia, I think you should invest in some cheap, yet effective veggie and fruit's called bicarbonato. It comes in little plastic pouches near the spices and works wonders for getting all the dirt (and other mysterious substances!) off your dirty, but way more fresh and delicious grub! Also enjoy the added bonus of being called "mi reina" as you walk past each vendor at the market....SUERTE!