Posted by Ric Garrido

I saw the future in 1974 when I visited a market in Luzern, Switzerland. At least I think it was Luzern, regardless it was Switzerland. At the time my father was a US Army helicopter mechanic stationed outside of Mainz, Germany and we made a road trip to Switzerland. Having lived in Los Angeles in 1973 prior to moving to Germany, I think I had been exposed to some of the most modern technological innovations in the USA, but I had never seen anything like Switzerland shopping. We were in an underground pedestrian walkway and we passed a market that was fully automated. Products were displayed in the window and you could purchase items like a super-size vending machine.

The technological concept blew my mind.

Now we have online shopping from home and credit cards and smart phones. Anything you want to buy is a click away if you have the credit.

Comparative shopping in a global sense.

Nearly everywhere I travel I shop. Not for clothing or handbags or jewelry. I shop for food.

When personal computers first came out in the early 1980s I bought a PC (Apple would not give this college student making $30,000 a year in 1985 credit to buy their product). One of the first pieces of software I acquired was a program to track my spending. After a year tracking expenses I realized we were spending far too much money eating out at restaurants. One of the biggest savings of our annual income comes through buying food at the supermarket and cooking our own meals. That monetary savings from preparing nearly all our own meals allows us to travel more frequently. And it also means that I have a good sense of the cost of food products in the markets in California.

One of my quirks of travel is I feel compelled to hang out in supermarkets and analyze the price of food anywhere I travel. I spent about 20 minutes in the Coop Market in Zurich during my three hour city walkabout.

The fresh produce and perishable goods looked amazing for a northern European city in wintertime. I had the same reaction when staying in Stockholm for a week in January 1993.

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Dole Pineapples in Zurich supermarket, March 5, 2013.

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$3.25 for fresh lettuce is expensive for me, but I happen to live 20 miles from Salinas, California, the lettuce capital of the world. I see loads of produce and this is beautiful lettuce.

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These are artichokes did not look to be top quality to me, but considering that about 80% of the artichokes sold in the U.S. are grown within 20 miles of my home in Monterey, California, I was astonished to even see fresh artichokes in Zurich. At this price the artichokes in Monterey would be double the size.

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Lindt Chocolate Easter Bunnies. This display of chocolate was amazing. Easter chocolate was highly commercialized and absolutely far cheaper price than in the USA. A large chocolate bunny was $5.40 USD.

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The price of beer is one of my great pleasures in visiting most countries in Europe. These imports were actually expensive, but the local Swiss beers are the equivalent of about $3.50 a 6-pack.

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Chateau Neuf du Pape for 13.95CHF or a little over $15.

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Fresh Atlantic salmon at 2.35 CHF for 100 g. This is about $12 per pound. I can buy Pacific salmon for about $8.00 per pound at Costco.

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Organic eggs and unrefrigerated. These were about $1 an egg. Generic eggs with plenty of hormones included will cost about $3.00 per dozen in California.

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Hot prepared food at about $5.00 per pound.

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Just know that you need to print out a price label for many foods. I have been bitched out in several languages at the checkout counter in past travels for not pricing my food.

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Recycling is easy in Zurich. One of my pet peeves is the lack of adequate waste product recycling in most places around the USA. I hate how cumbersome it is to recycle bottles in California and it pisses me off that Waste Management corporation makes billions of dollars from bottle and can scrap value people throw away due to the inconvenient system of recycling in California and most of the USA.

There was a 0.30 CHF bottle deposit on the beer I drank in the Zurich Airport Oneworld lounge. You know people in the USA would not throw their bottles and cans in the trash if they had to pay 33 cents for every bottle they purchased.

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Recycle your water filters and used batteries at the supermarket.

That is so green. I love it.

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Happy Easter chocolate time at the Coop market in Zurich.

There also happened to be the market at the Bahnhof train station yesterday.

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Farmers’ Market, Zurich Train Station.

9 Responses

  1. I absolutely love the Coops in Switzerland. They are one of my favorite things about traveling there! I love Switzerland SO MUCH. I hope I am fortunate enough to retire there one day!

  2. My favorite pastime is supermarket shopping all over the world. You missed a Migros supermarket right below the station you were in.
    I do not think it is fair to compare prices at a supermarket to those at Costco. just saying, even though I shop at Costco.

  3. Couldn’t agree more, the supermarket is someplace real, an experience to seek out and explore when in a new city, where you’ll actually meet local folk who are often all too happy to explain things and help if language or customs aren’t clear.

  4. I also enjoy supermarket or farmer market when travel abroad, that way I could feel and see what the local do and eat.

    Comment by Karung99 on March 6th, 2013 at 8:01 am
  5. I’m another fan of supermarkets in other countries. In the developing world, they are a good place to stock up on bottled water. And, everywhere, they provide a lot of insight into local lives.

  6. Those eggs are hard-boiled and coloured. They are easter eggs. Normal eggs are not quite as expensive.
    When you compare prices to the US, you need to keep in mind that wages are much higher and taxes lower in Switzerland. And although it doesn’t apply to food, prices already include sales tax which is a little over 7% so when you see something for 100, it’s 100, not 109 like in California.

    Comment by ben senise on March 6th, 2013 at 9:16 am
  7. I don’t think it’s fair to compare supermarket prices in Switzerland to Costco prices.

    Comment by martin henner on March 6th, 2013 at 11:22 am
  8. @ben Senise – that makes sense that they are easter eggs. I didn’t see the fresh eggs I guess.

    Another thing I read is that the price shown on a restaurant menu is the final price with no add-ons like tip or table service.

    @martin henner and @Charles – I happen to buy my salmon at Costco. I know the price fluctuates much more at Safeway or other supermarkets. There might be less expensive places in Zurich. I am just working with the knowledge I have. Salmon is probably more expensive in most places in the US than California.

  9. [...] Lost in the supermarket Swiss style (March [...]

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