Harare - Post Report Question and Answers

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

Zimbabwe contends with runaway inflation, which makes it difficult to say from week to week (or sometimes day to day) how much things will cost. Everything is expensive compared to most other countries in Africa. Compared to Washington DC, produce tends to be relatively reasonable. Quality can vary. Staples like rice and other grains are on the expensive side. Meat, depending on quality and how safely it is produced, can be reasonable to expensive. Dairy is hugely expensive and poor quality. Locally produced butter (which is barely edible even if used only for cooking) costs upwards of $25 per pound. Imported butter costs upwards of $60 per pound. Household supplies are expensive, poor quality, and typically include unsafe ingredients. The bigger problem is availability. Zimbabwe is incredibly food insecure, and shortages of basic food are common. This will likely worsen over the next couple of years as the economy tanks and drought conditions endanger agricultural production. - Jan 2024

Larger variety than expected. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and good selection of meat. Costs fluctuated with the unstable economy. Prices are still cheaper than D.C. for the most part. - May 2021

Great selection of fruits and vegetables, and they are cheap. Good meat, too. Anything imported is expensive (though South African wine is reasonable). - Feb 2020

You can get steep discounts if you have USD, bringing things down more or less to what you’d pay in the US, but God help you if you don’t. Many things (bread, cooking oil) just aren’t available no matter how much you’re willing to pay. You can drive around looking for them, but then you’re burning gas, which can also be hard to find. - Feb 2019

Since October 2018, food is in continual short supply. There is a shortage of forex (USD) so imports are severely limited. If you have a consumables allowance you should use it. The economy is in a free fall and things will not get better anytime soon. - Jan 2019

There is a local farmers' market on Wednesdays and Saturdays until 1pm. If you go before 10am, you can get all the fresh fruits and vegetables your heart desires. The produce here is cheaper than what is available in the grocery stores. Stores - You have to go to 3-4 stores to get all the ingredients you need for a dish. I'm quite particular about the foods I buy and my husband has a gluten allergy. You can get some gluten-free foods but they are VERY expensive. Produce is SEASONAL - I learned the hard way that if I like blueberries, I better buy and freeze them while they are in season. I haven't found frozen fruits anywhere! Meats - There are good quality meats and most expats go to local butchers. Cheese - There are 3 types of cheese readily available. All others, good luck! There are a few families that are hooked up with "the cheese guy" but it's a hassle to find. Household supplies - The US products are better quality and more variety. The products get expensive because the houses are big and there is a lot of space to clean. Laundry soap is "meh." Not the best, but it does the job. Thank goodness I went overboard on tide from Costco before getting here. - Apr 2018

You can get pretty much everything that you can in the states with some things cheaper and some things more expensive. Most things come from South Africa. - Sep 2017

Several South African chains (supermarkets) with lots of groceries available.Prices fluctuate and are now on the increase. Many products do not have information about ingredients which is scary if you know some of the realities in this country. - Jul 2017

Almost everything was available from South Africa. Some things like meat were cheaper than the US while other things like car parts and maintenance were more expensive. - Jul 2017

Most of what you need is available from supermarkets - Food Lover's Market, SPAR etc. Cost seems to be reasonable. - Apr 2016

Everything is available, although the brands are 90% South African, not U.S. or European. Prices are similar to those in the U.S. - Dec 2013

Produce, though very much available, varies in cost seasonally (as it should!), so plan your menus. Sometimes red peppers are US$4/kg (US$2/lb) and sometimes US$18/kg. Fresh meat is available and is on par with DC area prices: US$6-$10/kg for chicken breast (boneless, skinless), US$4.50/kg fryer chicken, US$6.50/kg for bone-in thighs (in bulk) and legs too. The Butcher's Kitchen, Billy's and Supreme Butcher have good meats, also Fruit and Veg in Greendale (Greendale and Samora Michel). Dry goods are often imported from South Africa and are VERY expensive. Fresh bread is available and not expensive. Cleaning supplies are available and on par with U.S. prices. Plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, parchment paper, trash bags (bin liners) and zip lock bags are very expensive. Freezer paper is not available. Local (blah) beer is available not not expensive. South African wine is available for US$6-$$$$ a bottle. Liquor is available, some premium brands, at prices on par with those in the D.C. area, save some brands which are enormously expensive. Local brands are much less expensive. - Jul 2013

Right now, pretty much everything is available in the local stores, although you might have to make a few stops to get everything. There are great produce shops, butchers, and South African chain stores. - Jun 2009

Anything is available on the black market if you have access to foreign currency. Costs are higher than the U.S. or Europe. - Dec 2008

Things are very expensive and hard to find now, but last year i woudl have said it was all cheap and relatively easy to find things once you know where to go for what. Things change here fast., so hard to say but at the moment, we are importing lots from South Africa every month (facilitated by the embassy). - Sep 2008

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