Ecuador is a country that produces and manufactures many things. So before you get to the checkout counter, you might want to add to the cart the local brand and try it out and see if it is acceptable to your palate because buying local (most of the time) will save you a bundle, but not always as you'll see in this article.
As far as food goes, produce is less expensive in Ecuador than the U.S but just about everything else is higher.
Note: photos taken from Walmart online in December 2015
1. Olive oil - Extra Virgin and Regular – Expect to pay almost twice as much in Ecuador. Sadly extra virgin olive oil is the only raw oil sold in Ecuador. We have been talking with the managers of many chain grocery stores, practically begging them to start adding on their shelf a different raw (cold-pressed) oil…still waiting.
|101 EV Olive Oil $17.56 in the U.S|
2. Chicken – The chicken tastes 100% better (fresher) here but the price is about one third higher than what you’ll pay at Walmart in the states.You might want to double click on the images to enlarge.
|Chicken Breasts $1.49 LB U.S.A|
3. Sweet Potatoes – in 2012 we bought sweet potatoes at local pricing which is much lower than what they’re asking now, and now after the gringos showed up, they cost more than in the U.S. They’re grown in Guayaquil, so why so high?
|Sweet Potatoes 28 cents LB|
4. Parmesan cheese – Parmesan cheese is produced in Ecuador! Watch the video and find out more about this reality check on food.
6. Coffee – The local Loja grown coffee (which in my opinion is the best) has shot way up in price! What’s going on? We think all the rest of the gringos think it is the best too. See what happens? It’s crazy
7. Psyllium Husks – In 2012 they used to be cheaper than the U.S and now they cost more. This is another high demand gringo product. After I post this article, I’ll probably have at least two or three people (gringos) ask me where they can buy psyllium husks in Cuenca Ecuador. Let me just tell you the quick answer to that while we have you here. None of the health food stores in Cuenca are carrying psyllium husks at this time. Will that change? Who knows?
8. Brown rice – It’s only a little higher than what you would expect to pay in the U.S, so it’s not a big deal. But it’s still higher, huh?
9. Alcohol – We don’t drink but we hear from time to time about how much higher (two times the cost of the U.S) it is in Ecuador than back home.
10. Potatoes – Why would a vegetable that grows in Ecuador cost more than in the U.S? This one is going to blow your socks off.
|$1.79 for a 10 pound bag in the U.S.A|
11. Peanut butter – Very, very high. They have a few local brands but some of them have added wheat and preservatives. We make our own now and it is really simple! See how to make homemade PB.
12. Pringles - $3.85 for the regular size Pringles. They have locally produced potato chips in Ecuador. Be careful though, some brands can give you stomach issues because they are deep fried in rancid oil. Pringles are baked and imported from U.S.
13. Herbs and Spices - Unless they are the loose dried leaf in bags, expect to pay two times more than in the U.S for herbs and spices. The cinnamon is a different story altogether, even the bagged cinnamon is expensive in Ecuador. It’s cheaper to buy the cinnamon sticks and grind it yourself, which tastes better anyway.
14. Canned Tomato paste/sauce – Amazingly, the canned tomato sauce for the 29 ounce cans (Great Value Brand) is still only $1.24! That's what it was when it wasn't on sale almost five years ago! In Ecuador a 29 ounce can of tomato paste or sauce cost over $4 last time I checked and it has sugar in it!
|All natural tomato sauce - $1.24 for 29 oz|
When we lived in the U.S we found the Great Value brand to be the best value because it was always the most natural product on the shelf without added preservatives, coloring and sugars.
15. Ice Cream – The ice cream in the grocery stores freezer department is not very good and it is expensive with a lot of unhealthy ingredients. A little tiny tub for the good stuff (24oz) is like $3.90. In the U.S you can get twice as much ice cream for the same price and it's one of the best brands too.
|Bryers Ice Cream $3.94 for 48oz|
17. Whole Turkey – It’s the same as the chicken, it tastes good but it's expensive.
|Whole Turkey $1.19 LB for a 22 Pound Turkey = cost is $26 in the U.S|
18. Cranberries – In the states a can of cranberries for a popular brand cost $.99 cents and the off brand cost $79 cents. For the same size can it costs almost $3.50 a can in Cuenca. Someone’s getting rich off the gringo’s holidays because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in South America, at least not normally.
19. Frozen entrées and other frozen prepared foods - They treat frozen meals such as pizza and TV dinners like they were made of gold here. We stay away from the prepared foods.
19. Pizza – It’s just a little bread with cheese and sauce and some veggies, well that’s what the old timey Italians thought. Here it’s an international gourmet food with corresponding non Ecuadorian price tag. A days’ wages for a pizza anyone?
20. Apples – The local ones do not cost more but do you want to eat them? Unfortunately, the local apples are just not that good here. We pay a bit more and buy the ones from Chile.
And that is our list of 20 popular foods that cost more in Ecuador than in the U.S.
Even though some foods cost more in Ecuador, our grocery bill is still lower here than it was when we lived in the U.S and that's because produce is reasonably priced in Ecuador and we do not buy imported items and we prepare all of our meals from scratch using the whole foods which are better priced than the already prepared foods like TV dinners.
Until we write again…
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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!