Beijing - Post Report Question and Answers

How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can get almost anything in either the embassy commissary or one of the nearby markets. There is a small supermarket close to the embassy that caters to Westerners-it's not cheap, but it's good to have. Most brands are European or Australian, but you can find nearly anything you need. Nondairy milks and yogurts and meat substitutes are available. - Nov 2021

You can find pretty much everything, or a copy of everything, at stores and online in Beijing. For actually imported products you'll pay a premium but everything else is cheap compared to the United States. - Nov 2020

Pretty much everything you really need is available here. Expat grocery stores like Jenny Wang’s and Jenny Lou’s have everything you need, and the Embassy will help you through the VAT collection process if you make a point to save your receipts. Most speciality goods are available by TaoBao, or you can also shop online with an English-language version like PandaoBoo or Baopals. - Aug 2020

Quite cheap if you shop "local"; Western prices if you shop at the expat-friendly, high-end groceries stores. I typically order groceries on my phone or have my household help pick things up. - Jul 2020

Seasonal foods and veggies are totally affordable. Everything can be delivered to your door by app by a bike messenger. Some imported items are super expensive. - May 2020

Everything is available, but western brands are more expensive than the US. I do not trust many local branded household supplies. Shampoo for example is $15, for the same brand and size bottle you pay up to $6 in the US. Beijing has gotten more expensive since we arrived. - Nov 2019

Grocery prices are not cheap especially for U.S.-type products. If you can find your way to larger mainstream markets like Carrefour or Metro, prices are about the same as in the U.S. or less. - Oct 2017

Most western items are available, but items that are not in the Chinese diet (dairy and bread are the big ones) are sometimes exorbitant (think $10 for a stick of butter). Chinese brand groceries are dirt cheap. Fruits and veggies, if you use local varieties, cost almost nothing. - Dec 2015

You can get most groceries and household supplies here, but you will pay a premium. Clothing and dishwasher detergent is very expensive (smallest box of clothing detergent will run you about US$11). US Wines will run you US$15 on SALE! Everything is about 25-40% higher. Mayo - US$6 for smallest jar. - Apr 2015

Local products are cheap but imported one are expensive. - Aug 2014

Very readily available. You can pretty much get everything you could every want or need here. In the suburbs, we have easy access to Jenny Wang's - a grocery chain that specializes in Western imports. That said, you definitely will pay a price for familiar food stuffs. Cereal (my kids' favorite food) is typically $8 a box so we usually plan ahead and order it through Amazon. You can get staples for a much lower price at Chinese markets and grocery stores. - Jul 2014

If you shop at international grocery stores, expensive, since it's all imported. Cheaper if you go to local markets. - Jun 2013

Household supplies are readily available at reasonable prices. Local food items are relatively inexpensive, but come with uncertainties about quality (milk tainted with melamine or leather products; fruits, vegetables, and meats laced with chemicals). For those reasons, we buy mostly imported stuff, which is rather expensive -- especially for items not commonly eaten by the Chinese (bread, cheese, breakfast cereal, etc.). With cereal at around $12/box, we order it and other items online. Wine and other imported drinks are also pricey (about 150% of U.S. prices) --and beware of some sellers with “cut” or otherwise inauthentic products. - Aug 2011

There is an excellent selection of import grocery stores but they are pricey - Apr 2011

Everyone says "you can get anything here." This is true, except for Ivory soap. And what they don't say is "...and it'll cost you." At the market around the corner from me, milk is $12 per gallon, butter is $1.50 per stick, and at Wal-Mart cheese costs $7 for a small block of Land O Lakes cheddar. Extrapolate accordingly. Obviously your average Beijing resident who makes $600 a month isn't paying these prices, they just eat entirely different things, some of whichnewly arriving Americans would consider weird and alien. You'll either need to change your habits (and lower your standards - Chinese products are not the same quality you'll be used to) or pay through the nose. - Jan 2011

You can get just about everything here at Jenny Los and other shops, but oh, is it expensive! Chocolate chips: $5/bag. Cereal: $10/box. - Apr 2010

Chinese groceries are cheap, but they have had a lot of food scares such as melamine in milk and all flour products, growth hormones in milk, problems with pork production etc. Imported food is safer but more expensive. - Jan 2010

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