Ouagadougou - Post Report Question and Answers

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

Hit or miss. If you see it and want it, buy it as it might not show up in stores for months. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal. Middle Eastern food is typically available: lentils, couscous, olives. Toiletries are variable. If you have specific brands you need, bring them. If you are ok with whatever, then you can get soaps, shampoo, detergents, etc. Seasonal fruits, vegetables and meats are very reasonably priced. However, imported meats/cheeses, olive oil, etc are quite expensive. A box of cereal costs around $10 USD. - Jun 2020

You can probably find everything you need, but not necessarily everything you want. Probably not favorite brands, or even a familiar brand. Availability is not consistent. It is recommended to buy items when you see them on the shelf and keep a supply of staples on hand. Groceries are expensive. Government employees receive a cost of living allowance (COLA). - Oct 2019

You can probably find everything you need, or some reasonable facsimile thereof, but the place can be quite expensive. - Jul 2019

More and more familiar products found in the stores all the time, though availability is sporadic. It is recommended to maintain an ample supply at home; items are expensive. - Jul 2019

Generally more expensive, except for fresh fruits and vegetables. Availability of certain items depends, if you see something you like, buy a lot of it. We've experienced shortages of butter and milk. - Dec 2017

There are a handful of supermarkets in the center city and one in Ouaga 2000. Availability of certain products is much better than my (low) expectations coming in, but you'll pay for it. We've been surprised to find smoked salmon imported from Norway and knock-off cheddar cheese imported from France. Both are more than you would pay in the U.S., but they're here. If you like French cheeses and meats, the down-market versions are all available here for a reasonable price. Fresh product is generally of very good quality, but very seasonal. From January to March, you can even get strawberries, broccoli, and cauliflower. Cuts of meat are different from what you'd expect in the U.S., but there are some butchers that have good quality and can cut to order. - May 2016

Almost everything is available here, just not all in one place or at any given time. You might see applesauce one day, then never again for another year. Or all the stores might be out of flour or milk for a few weeks. Or you have to go to every store in town to get the things on your list. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal so many people freeze things like strawberries and mangoes to have all year long. - Aug 2015

I'd say that in an average week, you can find most anything you're looking for in Ouaga, with the exception of certain American stuff (black beans, for example). Once in awhile there will be stock-outs of certain imported products like cheese or yogurt. Some kinds of fruits and vegetables are only available in season, or not available at all (for example, you can't find asparagus here). Imported stuff can be expensive, local stuff is cheap. - Jun 2015

It's a brilliant shopping trip if I came home with everything I had on my list. I now usually shop in the reverse, making a menu based off of what I could find. Some vegetables will never appear, or when they do, it's a fun find! There are times when the vegetables are plentiful and others when you're paying way too much for a few carrots, small green peppers and funky lettuce. But then it's strawberry season and I fill my freezer and all is right in the world again! - Jan 2015

This is where Ouaga is amazing. There are 3 grocery store chains with 5 total stores, spread throughout the city. There are different products from different suppliers at each. Bingo, Marina and Scimas. - Jul 2013

We typically shop at Trader Joe's and Safeway in the states and didn't notice much of an increase in our shopping bills. We did come from the San Francisco area though. Availability of products is intermittent. Boxed or powdered milk are your only options and we went for a period of two months without it. Cheddar cheese was another difficult and expensive thing to come by. Many people from the embassy ordered their cheeses through Hawkeye Dairy. Boxed cereal is disgusting. We always ordered that through Amazon. - Jul 2013

Western groceries are expensive and it's difficult to find a lot of American things besides sweets, Heinz ketchup, and Jack Daniels. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, and honey are locally available, cheap and generally pretty good, but you need to take precautions. - Nov 2012

Things are much more expensive here, due to it being a land-locked country. Expect to pay much more for food at the western grocery stores. - Aug 2010

A couple months ago the prices were going REALLY high and everyone was protesting. It was dangerous, but it's over now. - Aug 2008

I have found groceries to be quite expensive. Milk is about US$8.50 a gallon! Use your consumable shipment because while you can get most things here (or suitable substitutes) you will pay for it. - Jul 2008

If you can't find what you're used to, you can find a substitute (except for Cheerios). Prices are generally higher than in the U.S. except for some of the meats, but they're not exorbitant. - Jun 2008

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