Saturday, March 14, 2009

Comparing Apples and Oranges

When I was in the states last summer, I was shocked at the prices for groceries, and I hadn't been gone for that long. Less than a year, in fact. For the most part, prices for fresh produce - which is grown in this part of the world - are very reasonable. Imported products, like coffee and cereal, cost more but I don't think they are too far out of line with what might be paid for similar products in the states.
So I'll let you compare for yourself - how do Saudi grocery prices stack up against prices in your part of the world? I've taken samples from several grocery stores, from mega stores to smaller ones, and a few samples from the outdoor fruit and vegetable market.

For comparison, $1 US equals 3.75 Saudi Riyals (SR), and 1 KG equals 2.2 LB. 

BEEF KNUCKLE: 1 KG costs 39.90 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $10.64 US. So in this photo, we have 2.07 KG costing 70.17 SR, which translates to 4.8 LB costing $18.71 US.

GROUND BEEF: 1 KG costs 17.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $4.78 US.

CUBED BEEF: 1 KG costs 19.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $5.32 US.

CHICKEN: One whole, uncooked, costs 5 - 7 SR, which equals $1.33 - $1.86 US.

FRESH PARROT FISH: 1 KG costs 16.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $4.52 US.

TILAPIA: 1 KG cost 12.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $3.45 US.

SEAFOOD COCKTAIL: Ready to cook seafood mix of shrimp, crab, calamari, etc., plus some veggies, 1 KG costs 30 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $8 US.
TOMATOES: 8 medium, weighing .725 KG, costs 4.31 SR, which equals 1.6 LB at $1.15 US. (1 KG costs 5.95 SR which equals 2.2 LB for $1.58 US.)

HOT PEPPERS: 1 KG costs 6.25 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $1.66 US.

LONG HOT PEPPERS: 1 KG cost 8.50 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $2.26.
CHERRY TOMATOES: One carton costs 4 SR, which equals $1.06 US.

BELL PEPPERS: 1 KG costs 13.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $3.72 US.

GERMAN STYLE BREAD: One Round Loaf about 8 inches across costs 3.95 SR, which equals $1.05 US.

6 INCH SUB SANDWICH BREAD: Package of 6 costs .75 SR, which equals $.20 US.

SESAME BREAD: One Loaf, about 8 inches across costs 1 SR, which equals $.26 US.

REGULAR SLICED BREAD: One Loaf costs 1.5 SR, which equals $.40 US.

DATE BREAD: Individual serving (size of a Large Croissant), with date filling and topped with sesame seeds costs 1 SR, which equals $.26 US.

FLOUR TORTILLAS: Package of 12, medium size, costs 1.95 SR, which equals $.52 US.

DATES: Stuffed with Almonds and topped with Sesame Seeds, approximately 60 count, weighing .558 KG, costs 19.50 SR, which equals 1.22 LB costing $5.20 US.

POTATOES: 1 KG costs 4.75 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $1.26 US.

GREEN ONIONS: 1 Large Bunch costs 1 SR, which equals $.26 US.

PEARS: Box of 20 costs 12 SR, which equals $3.20 US.

APPLES: 1 KG costs 4.50 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $1.20 US.

GRAPEFRUIT: 1 KG costs 4.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $1.32 US.

LEMONS: 1 KG costs 6.95 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $1.85 US.

TANGERINES: One Crate costs 10 SR, which equals $2.66 US.

INSTANT COFFEE: Store brand, medium size, costs 15.95 SR, which equals $4.25 US.

RADISHES: 2 Large Bunches costs 2 SR, which equals $.53 US.

ONIONS: 1 KG costs 2 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $.53 US.

BROCCOLI: 1 KG costs 6.25 SR, which equals 2.2 LB costing $1.66 US.

DILL, CILANTRO, ETC: Huge Bunch for 1 SR, which equals $.26 US.

EGGS: CARTON OF 30 large costs 14 SR, which equals $3.73 US.

WHOLE MILK: 2 Liter Bottle costs 7 SR, which equals $1.86 US.

BUTTER: Single Stick costs 3 SR ($.80 US); Double Stick costs 5 SR, which equals $1.33 US.

YOGURT: 1 with Fruit costs 1 SR, which equals $.26 US.

KRAFT SINGLES CHEESE: Package of 24 slices costs 14.95 SR, which equals $3.98 US.

GARLIC: Bag of 19 Garlic Heads costs 3 SR, which equals $.80 US.

MACARONI: Package weighing 500 G costs 3.95 SR, which equals 1.1 LB costing $1.05 US.

BANANAS: Large bunch of 8 costs 2 SR, which equals $.53 US.

FRESH FIGS: Box of 25 costs 10 SR, which equals $2.66 US.

TUNA FISH: Small Can, average price is 4 SR, which equals $1.06 US.

CEREAL, Small Box costs 13.50 SR ($3.60 US), Large 32.50 SR ($8.66 US).

DREAM WHIP: Package with 2 packets costs 4.25 SR, which equals $1.13 US.

BETTY CROCKER CREME CARAMEL MIX: One Box costs 2.50 SR, which equals $.66 US.

OFF BRAND CREME CARAMEL MIX: One Box costs 1.50 SR, which equals $.40 US.

VANILLA: 15 G powder packet costs 2.95 SR, which equals $.78 US.

BAKERY CAKE, MEDIUM: costs 29.95 SR, which equals $7.98 US.

BAKERY CAKE, LARGE: costs 39.95 SR, which equals $10.65 US.

BAKERY CAKE, LARGE: Gateau with Fruit Topping costs 44.95 SR, which equals $11.98 US.

PASTRIES: Fancy single serving costs 1.95 SR, which equals $.52 US.

9 LIVES CAT FOOD: 6 small cans costs 13.95 SR, which equals $3.72 US.

TROPICAL FISH FOOD: Large costs 24.95 SR, which equals $6.65 US.

GOLDFISH FOOD: Small costs 12.95, Large costs 21.95 SR, which equals $3.45 - 5.85 US.

REPTILE FOOD: 29.95 SR, which equals $7.98 US.

HARTZ SHAMPOO FOR CATS: costs 29.95 SR, which equals $7.98 US.


  1. I think most of your food prices are cheaper than here. The produce and bakery goods look yummy.
    Interesting post Susie.

  2. Thank you for sharing, I often wonder what the prices are like in other countries, and how we compare

  3. I will check into some of the pries here.
    Okinawa, Japan.
    On the military base where we shop most of the time it varies.
    The worst price EVER.
    Zucchini here is $6.53 a LB. I never craved it more than when it is expensive.

  4. Always interesting. I remember having issues w/ the prices here when I came back from Tanzania lol... exact opposite (much cheaper there than here).

    But I have a question, how does this compare w/ typical wages there? A lot of times it ends up evening out a bit more when you take that into account.. At least here in the states. In one place (city or state) you may pay more for stuff but make more too.

  5. ohhh susie would love to do my grocery there LOL

    thanks again for sharing this

  6. I'm an idiot! Sorry.. I can't do math, period... (I wasn't kidding when I referred to that in my post the other day) I was thinking it was the opposite. Like everything was 3 times as much. Oops.. silly me!

    But.. question still applies I think lol.

  7. Wow!!! What a facinating and great post, Susie! I can't believe how cheap your bread products are and your veggies and fruit. Those figs make me you KNOW what I could do with a tray of those beauties? I had no idea how much cheaper the food cost was over there.... why do you think that is? Such and interesting post, Susie! Thank you for taking the time to inform us.

    By the way...I met a friend of yours...I believe her name was Margaret. I was at Sheila's belated birthday party at her sister, Judy's, house and this very nice woman asked me if I was 'Velvet Brick'. I smiled and said I was and she said that you had told her to give me a hug for you, so we gave each other a big hug in your honor and it was so nice to meet and visit with her! Thank you for the hug, did you know it was just the ticket? xoxo Love you, dear lady.
    aka Velvet Brick : )

  8. Hi Gaelyn! and Hi Deb!
    Thanks - I thought it might be interesting to compare. When I was in the states last summer, I kept wondering how families could afford to eat!

    Hi Howes Family!
    Isn't that always the way? That's an outrageous price to pay for zuccini!

    Hi Mama K!
    The Saudi and ex-pat professionals here get paid well, while the menial labor jobs pay poorly. However those poor paying jobs are filled by foreign workers from poor countries, and the low wages they make here are more than what they would make in their own countries by quite a margin. Great question!

  9. AA- Susie,

    Very cool how you went through all the trouble to put the prices. But how about next time you show some consideration for your lazy readers (ME!) and compile an Excel spreadsheet with prices from across the world, so we can see the actual comparison. Now *that* would be impressive! :-P

    BTW, nice pics. Don't people look at you as some weirdo taking pics in a grocery store?!? :-)

  10. Hi Anthonette!
    I must admit I never liked grocery shopping in the states, but I enjoy it more here. Maybe because just being able to get out of the house here is a treat!

    Hi VelvetBrick!
    The produce here I think is amazingly cheap and it's great quality to boot! I can't get over the prices of breads here either.
    I'm so glad you met Margaret - I was there with you all in spirit!

  11. That's what I expected from looking at other countries nearby... and completely goes against the norm on how cost of living works lol. I remember in TZ it's around 1000 sh to a dollar, but it evens out w/ how little people make.

  12. Hi, Just wanted to say that a lot of people, esp young families, or young couples choose to eat out at least 4-5 times a week, or get takeaways, it is that cheap here, so maybe thats why prices are so low...

  13. Hi Naeem - Great idea - I'll get working on it right away! NOT!!! I do try to be discreet when I take my photos, but I do get plenty of wierd looks - nobody else walks around with a camera here...

    Hi Mama K - Somehow it does all even out.

    Hi Anon - Thanks for pointing that out. Since grocery prices are cheaper, maybe restaurants also are more reasonable, so more people take advantage of not having to cook themselves and opt to eat out.

  14. Hi Susie, Can I send you my grocery list? LOL!Those dates are to die for.
    I charge 5$ a loaf for freshly ground wholewheat at the farmers market.It's hard to believe you can buy yours for a little more than a $.
    How do they make any money?

  15. Hi Susie,
    your veggie prices, and also fruit prices, remind of me of how cheap it was to live in Thailand. The open air markets there were full of really cheap produce and also loads of fish, also lots of inexpensive flowers, like orchids, which you could buy by the bushel. But, you have to remember that the median income in Thailand was a lot less than in the USA. I wonder what the median income is in Jeddah?
    Love you!

  16. great post...always love checking out the market to not only see what's in it but the prices and how they stack up against those here. appears some are more/less same while others less.

    i thought a lot of the meat/fish in italy was high in comparison to prices here on my recent trip. i know eggs were more.

    thanks for all the work you put into this post :)

    have a wonderful week.


  17. Susie,

    That is great that you can get tortillas. How are they? I remember the year I lived in Germany and Mexican food was what I missed most.

    Ann, Elise, and Marge were up yesterday for the party. I am going to do a post on it and include the picture Elise gave me of the three of us in 1956 in their backyard. It is great! Wish you could have been here!

  18. I would like to invited your to play a game, stop by my site for the rules...


  19. Hi Susie! Very interesting! And you even have flour tortillas! Wow, I'm really surprised. Not sure what I expected to see in a Saudi grocery store it looks like US stores and food!

  20. Thats the thing about Saudi,

    Although we have some of strict rules when it comes to social life between women and men. Saudi's are generally living a very comfortable life.

    You can find all the best products from all parts of the world, wheather its chinese brand sauces and snacks or european choclates or mexican tortilla etc... Food prices are cheaper and salaries (for saudis) is on par or sometimes higher than that in the US. for example a fresh unviersity graduate will be making anything between 7000-10000SR ~1900$-2700$ a month.

    Alot of expats come to saudi because its probably the best place to make money and 'save' it.

    It is true that there is a discrimination between Saudi's and non-saudi's when it comes to salaries but expats in most cases are still making more than double what they would be making in their own countries.

    After reading your blog for a while and others like American_bedu, etc... I wondered why I never felt women were living as horrible a life as described by many westerners...

    When I spoke to my female relatives if they were happy living in saudi, they had this to say "although women in the west have thier freedoms to dress and speak to male strangers, the norm for women in saudi is that they are living more comfortably and have all you can want in life" (other than drive and jog outdoors). Saudi women perfer having a strong family relationship that take care of her and help her find a good husband than live thier life running after boys from highschool onwards. They prefer having children that almost worship her than live in a retirment home in a free country.

    Of course the picture is never beautiful for all people (As in all counties) As some men can be real jerks and make life misreable but this is NOT the norm!

    Sorry if I deviated of topic :s just thought you'd be interested in having other perspectives of things.

  21. Hi! Interesting post--the price that struck me the most were the large bunches of herbs for 1SR (0.26). And what's this about importing mandarin oranges from Turkiye instead of clementines from Morocco!? LOL :D

    Simple Saudi--good to here the broader perspective, and the cultural insider one.

  22. Edit--agh! "Good to hear..."

  23. You said those were the prices last year? You should see them now. The funny part is the cheapest, cleanest market with the best quality produce is our local Arab market. I shop there, and live in Orange County, California. Thanks for your comments on my blog.

  24. Wow! Your groceries are cheaper there than here in Oman. Only thing is last week I got fresh tomatoes for 50 baisas (that's like 13cents!) for a kilo. I paid about .07 cents for a pound of tomatoes! woooo hoooo! Needless to say, I bought half a cart full and came home and made up fresh tomato sauce... Yum! :)

  25. Wow is right! Fresh produce isn't even that cheap where I live: the food basket of Canada! Well, farmers have to make a living, too.

  26. Congratulations on your Bloggie Award! :)

  27. Congratulations on your Best Asian Weblog bloggie award!

  28. Whoa! Susie! Look at all your pet food & supplies. Do you have a cat & fish? If you do . . . please oh please . . . pictures & a story! I love pet stories. Also, I heard Muslims don't like dogs as pets. Is this true? Do you meet dogs who are pets? Maybe you could give us a dog story? Ilse.

  29. I just like to mention the reason that bread prices are cheap is because wheat prices are subsidized in Saudi Arabia.

  30. Hi Susie,
    Very educational, thank you for sharing. Wow, amazing. Congrats on the Weblog win no one deserves it more than you. You do a fantastic job. A Master Blogger.

  31. I think, I'm not sure, this is my first time here. Thank you for your posts about and on Saudi living. And kudos for winning in the 2009 Weblog Awards! Ma'salamah!

  32. Susie wow mashAllah this post had to take you forever, this is why I love your blog. How are you, missed talking to you, hope all is well with you and yours inshAllah.

    I shop at Carrefour here in Riyadh, its the cheapest and way cheaper then the Arabic markets even. I was happy when coming here bc I thought everything was cheap but Riyadh is NOT cheap what so ever. Make up, food ugh you name it, it cost.

  33. Susie also I wanted to ask you how do yo get to take so many pictures? People here in Riyadh are really weird about pictures. I am always scared to take any. Even if your in a private room and people see a flash you should hear it, ya Allah. People are SOOO afraid you want their picture here. Even men get crazy about it. I do not want their pictures I want to scream. I thought I was going to fight some lady one day about this. I was taking a picture of a wall and she happened to walk by the side of me, started yelling at me, I WAS LIKE I DONT WANT YOUR PICTURE, lol.

    What does your dh think of your picture taking? Mine is always like ahh Noor come on can we eat already I am hungry, lol NO one more picture.

  34. OH Susie everything looks so good and at those prices I would be eating myself happy.

  35. Love the photos! Just want to say: CONGRATULATIONS on winning Best Asian/Middle East weblog of the year... Well done you! Hurray!

  36. This is very cheap ,but again all is relative.What do people earn?

  37. Susie,

    I enjoy reading your site all the time. I'm also amazed that they let you photograph many things and don't wonder what you are up to? Because we would find it weird in the states if someone was taking pictures in a grocery store. Really enjoyed the price comparisons! I was in Douglas this past weekend and did have some good Mexican food. You said tortillas in Saudi Arabia? flour tortillas or corn tortillas? I'm assuming flour. I came across flour tortillas in Spain which is not common and also the Mariachi's were playing in Barcelona which was great. Take care and keep blogging. Irene

  38. Wow, that was so interesting to read! I can't remember the prices of anything except I remember a crate of tangerines was $8.99 the other day - ON SALE!!!

  39. Very interesting post,Susie and I think the products are cheaper as here in Germany.And the supermarket looks so clean!

  40. Hi Everyone! Forgive me for being so late in addressing your comments. I've gotten way behind. Thanks for taking the time to comment...

    Hi Always - Bread prices here are amazingly cheap - I'm always astonished.

    Hi Sabine - I have no idea what the income levels are here - I don't know if there are stats but I'll try to find out.

    Hi Cheela - The tortillas are great - just like what you can buy in the supermarket in the states. We haven't really found a Mex restaurant here yet - we have Chili's but they just have some Mex items on the menu.

    Hi Simple Saudi - Thanks for the great info. I do know that at a new university here in Jeddah, salaries for professionals are upwards of 60,000 SR/mo (about $15,000 US/mo), plus they get housing and other benefits. I appreciate the input from your female relatives about how they value their lives compared to Western women as well. Thanks!

    Hi Chiara - The prices for herbs here are so cheap for a big bunch - it's a crime what is charged in the states for a fraction of the amount.

  41. Hi L_Oman - Thanks for chiming in about prices in Oman. I'm sure that overall your prices are still way cheaper than in the West.

    Hi Ilse - We do'n't have any pets right now, but I thought people might be interested in comparing those prices too. You have heard right - most Muslims are deathly afraid of dogs since they generally do not have them as pets. From what I've been told, Islam says that dogs are filthy animals, ranking them with pigs. I have not seen one dog since I've been here...

    Thanks to All for the Best Wishes on My Bloggie Award - I am thrilled!

    Hi Nebz - Welcome! And forgive me for not answering sooner.

    Hi Noor - I'm surprised to hear that the prices are not as cheap in Riyadh! I wonder why?
    I rarely use a flash and I do try to be discreet about taking pictures. I try to avoid taking photos of women and I try to ask the men for permission. So far, hubby doesn't mind, but he does get paranoid when I try to take photos of gov't buildings, etc!

    Hi Irene - If I am going to take photos in a shop, I've learned to ask the management first! They are happy to oblige when I tell them I want to show the folks back home what a beautiful grocery store I shop in.
    I've only found Flour tortillas here so far - no corn! But we have corn chips...

    Thanks again to everyone else I didn't mention individually - I really appreciate your comments!