Shopping Guide: Understand groceries in other countries

According to Five Star, the average person spends 60 hours a year in grocery stores and the average grocery store stocks 39 500 items! No wonder shopping is so overwhelming when you first go to a new country. Everything is different: names, trademarks and packaging. So, prepare yourself for the strange products and unique names so that you can fill your kitchen from the start with all the right groceries!

Here is a list of items, customs or stores you may not be familiar with:

  • Ironing water: In the UK, they sell water with a variety of different scents that you can iron with to make your clothes smell good. In South Africa, we are only used to adding scent when washing our clothes, not when ironing them. If you want to try it out, be on the lookout for Sainsbury’s or Tesco Ironing Water.
  • Eggs: In American grocery stores, the eggs are usually kept in refrigerators with the milk and cheese products while in South Africa, Germany and England they are stored on the shelf without refrigeration.
  • Cheese: In many countries, the strength of cheese is indicated on the package. One or two indicates that it is easy to eat while three or four are aged cheeses with a stronger taste.
  • Sunday shopping: In Germany, it is difficult to find an open grocery store on a Sunday. In big cities, it is more common but still with minimal trading hours. Don’t expect the local grocery store to be open until six or eight on a Sunday night like in South Africa!
  • Online grocery stores: In Australia, the top online grocery shopping sites are Coles, Sprout Market, Youfoodz, Catch, David Jones, eBay and Amazon Australia. In New Zealand, you can shop online at Countdown and in Wellington also at New World.
  • Cheez Whiz: Cheez Whiz is very popular in America. It is cheese sauce in a bottle that you can eat on your bread or vegies or enjoy straight from the bottle.
  • Milk: In Canada and many other countries, milk is much more often sold in sachets than in South Africa. In Germany, there are four types of milk: Landmilch (3,8% or more fat), Vollmilch (3,5% fat), Fettarmemilch (1,5% fat) and Magermilch (0,3% fat). No fat is removed from the Landmilch, which is often bought directly from a farm. Magermilch is skimmed milk, and Fettarmemilch (low-fat milk) usually contains between 1,5% and 1,8% fat.
  • Cream Soda: Most South Africans grew up with green Cream Soda but be warned: It’s unique. In Canada, it is pink and it is sold under the name Crush Cream Soda, but Fanta also sells translucent Cream Soda. In America it is translucent or light brown, in South America it is red and in Hong Kong yellow.

Whether you are in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada or America, you will surely miss good boerewors, Ouma rusks and koeksisters! But you can look forward to many new favourites and on top of that, you can buy South African products in most big cities nowadays if you miss it too much.

Also visit AfriForum’s World Guide. This guide enables people to once again support South African businesses abroad.

The World Guide is where South African businesses from around the world get together to form a community. The World Guide currently has more than 1 400 businesses, from Afrikaans doctors in New Zealand to biltong shops in London.

Networking is not only about businesses; it is also a valuable way of building a support base for those days when the longing for good South African wine, socialising around a braai and the indispensable South African hospitality becomes too much.

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