Swiss Grocery shopping
Swiss grocery shopping is getting more and more complicated with many new German players who have entered the Swiss market. We at the Swiss home seldom shop at super markets. Early on we used to order organic food from farmers together with friends to make it more cost effective and economical. This was at a time when organic food was seldom available and an exclusivity of only the health food stores.
Over the past 2 decades, things have changed and we have easy access to high quality organic food all over Switzerland.
Self Reliance still a dream
Our garden produce is abundant during the summer Organic vegetable harvest months till about December. But during the lean months spanning from February till about April, I have to rely on the health food stores or supermarkets. We used to shop regularly at the farmers market once or twice a week till mid 2016.
For a period of 10 years, we had access to one of the best Swiss organic farms about 10 kms away from our previous home. It was a trip, but I got the best quality locally produced milk, fruits and vegetables. Take a look at this awesome place. https://www.zur-weid.ch/
The added bonus was the sheer beauty and tranquility of shopping there. We had such beautiful views to the Swiss Alps. It was also part of my daughter’s infancy and childhood. We took wonderful walks, went to the animal stalls, the garden and the farm. I miss it still terribly. It was part of my daughter’s infancy and childhood. We could get a close relationship to where our food came from and the quality was way superior. There was also a nice playground where we had fun playing during our weekly grocery shop. We got everything we needed and I felt no need to shop elsewhere. To top all that we had a very personal relationship with the whole community there.
Supermarket shopping vs Farmer’s market
I will go into only some of the pros and cons of Swiss grocery shopping here.
Pros of big Supermarkets
Supermarkets have the advantage of bulk buying, bulk transport and saving costs. Their pricing structure cannot be compared to the smaller health food store or the farmers market. This is the advantage we have over the smaller health food stores.
The variety of food a supermarket has to offer is unlimited. The brands and other items available to a household is really vast and varied. Swiss grocery shopping experience turns exotic due to the fact that we here have the advantage of the high buying power which the economy offers. The supermarkets here take advantage of that.
Swiss grocery shopping prices varies from supermarket to supermarket especially with the discounters battling for a place in the market share.
Cons of Supermarket
This is one of the main disadvantages of grocery shopping at supermarkets unlike the health food stores or the farmer’s market. In the case of the latter you can take your own reusable bags. At the supermarkets you are left with a lot of packaging wastes. You can bring in some of the packaging like pet bottles, tetra packs and some plastic shampoo bottles etc in some of the Swiss grocery stores. But its not in all of them that you can successfully recycle. Some of the bigger supermarkets like Migros and Coop also sell reusable grocery bags. I have been using reusable bags for the past 2 decades. By shopping mainly at farms and smaller health food stores to avoid packaging waste.
This is something very individual. I personally try to avoid supermarkets and malls. I get dizzy with the amount of stuff and offers. But some people like to visit malls and super markets. Personally I feel its gets very impersonal with self check out and lack of individual assistance. Added to it the vastness of flour space one has to navigate to get the stuff one wants quickly.
On the other hand in the farmer’s market or health food store, this experience is very nice, personal and the individual attention.
Small stores and farmer’s market becoming obselete
Due to the price wars, its sad to see many of the smaller stores and farmer’s market being driven out of their market share. The supermarkets have the advantage of bulk buying and media advertising. With these advantages, they are able to gain the lion’s share in the Swiss grocery market.
Personally, my husband and I like like to support the small stores and the local farmers. So we try our best to support them. These smaller health food stores offer a niche market which is another reason for me to shop there. I used to personally know the store keepers while living in the old house. We could just order milk or anything over the telephone and pick up at my convenience. They used to reserve what we needed if we gave notice. We still do it now at the health food store where we shop. We have a standing order every week especially for the special bio dynamic raw milk after we discovered this store very quickly on moving here.
Grocery shopping at Aldi
The cost of living in Switzerland is very high. Its understandable that many of the residents of Switzerland go shopping to neighboring countries like Germany or France depending on how close they live to the border. In order to drive the locals to shop within Switzerland, new players like Aldi and Lidl have emerged into the Swiss market for the past decade or so. These 2 German giant grocery chains had already established themselves in Germany since a long time. In the recent years looks like all over Europe and the USA have an Aldi round the corner. Switzerland was a little late in allowing them here.
Take a look at my Aldi Grocery shopping below.
Aldi and Lidl have the price advantage in Swiss grocery shopping. Because, they have a limited variety and brands to offer. They are more like discounters who don’t need to make their shops very attractive. You know exactly what you are getting and not too many brands or varieties to confuse you. This is one advantage.
Their stores are usually located on the outskirts and often near industrial areas where the rent is also cheaper. In comparison Migros and Coop have their stores are in every village and town center and the rent and real estate is very high in prime locations. Not that the real estate is very cheap in Switzerland, but relative to the peak areas outskirts are cheaper. The additional bonus is also ample parking space.
High employee turn out due to lower salaries. Which is why they can be cheaper. This is what I heard from a neutral recruitment center. Salaries are lower and employee turn out is very high within these discounters like Aldi and Lidl. On the other hand Migros and Coop are typical Swiss enterprises and have better working conditions and salaries. They have long term employees who stay till retirement.