Addis Ababa - Post Report Question and Answers

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

There is a limited availability of goods in Ethiopia due to very stringent trade rules. Produce is plentiful and affordable, although there are some limitations in what you can find. They don't have, for example, lemons or many berries, but there are a lot of nice fruits and vegetables. Meat can be sketchy, and products like tofu are very limited (I go to a specific restaurant to buy it). Dairy products are not safe to consume due to a carcinogen they contain. As far as packages goods go, they are ridiculously expensive. For example, a jar of Nutella is $20, a bag of potato chips $15, a bottle of French wine $60-80. Same with cleaners etc. Most expats bring things in suitcases from trips or order them via services such as IDS. - Dec 2023

Most food products are available, but some are very expensive. Pasta and local fruits and vegetables are available at a reasonable price. Meat and poultry, eggs, etc are available and okay. However, some items are very expensive, or unsafe (milk, peanut butter, etc., better check with the HU to confirm the concerns with these products). I suggest bringing liquids and items in your consumables shipment that are expensive to obtain in Ethiopia:, such as oil, cartons of soy milk, peanut butter, and non-perishable items. Once you get to post you can send a supplemental consumables shipment. - Aug 2023

All the food is expensive. Whether I’m going to the commissary, the big expat grocery stores, or the fruit stands on the streets, they all cost a lot. I’ll give you an example, we got four mangoes, four oranges, ten pears, and ten apples and it cost $75. I’m sure we’re getting a foreigner price, or at least I hope so. - Aug 2023

Bambis and Gorgeous were quite good - just get ready to pay more for imported goods. Some rather common cleaning supplies will not be found. - Aug 2022

Groceries are relatively cheap. There aren’t all of the conveniences that exist in the US, but you get to be creative! have never felt restricted. There are lots of grocery stores in Addis. - Jul 2022

It's a joke. Everything imported is super-expensive. All electronics including appliances like microwaves are more expensive. - May 2022

Most things here are readily available, but expensive. - Jun 2021

Lots of availability but the quality wasn't the best. Fruits and veggies had to be washed in bleach or sickness would ensue. - Feb 2021

Poor range of goods. Lots of basic Italian items (tinned tomatoes, dried pasta, cooking oil, basic italian spices) and not much else. Two small supermarket/deli combos called Gorgeous and Novis respectively have a small range of speciality imported goods including some nice cheeses, olives etc. Good bread can be purchased at the two shops above and the Hyatt Hotel bakery shop. Those with access to the US Embassy Commissary make the most of it. The rest order from IDS and Justesens multiple times a year. - Aug 2020

Hit and miss. You can get many things through the commissary and Amazon. For fresh products, having domestic staff is almost essential for the help shopping. Everything has to be bleached before eating and even then you still might get E-Coli. - Mar 2020

Poor/expensive. Some French and South African food can be purchased at specialty stores, but it all depends on availability and the cost is high. We are told not to consume any local dairy, and the local meat isn't very good. Fruit and vegetables are limited and the quality is just ok. Fresh Corner, a local store, seems to be the best place for fruit and vegetables. They are located in Old Airport and Bole. Most of us with the US Embassy shop for the bulk of their needs at the commissary. The employee association offers supplemental consumable shipments for meats, milk, alcohol, etc. We've ordered meat from Kenya which is far superior. USE your consumables shipment. It will save you money. Local grocery stores have very limited parking. - Feb 2020

Limited here but it's fine. Mangos in season here are great and you can find avocados, raspberries and strawberries certain times of the year. Apples are expensive. We don't eat the meat from here so we order from overseas or bring back with us when we can. You can find salmon exported here (expensive but a nice change from chicken)! For the quality, groceries are a bit expensive. Soaps, laundry detergent , cleaning supplies and dish soaps aren't that great but will do if you have nothing else. Might be a good idea to bring your own (or put in a shipment if you get one). - Feb 2019

Basic groceries are available, but lots of the non-basic stuff can be unavailable at times, and some things are just not available ever. Vegetables are seasonal, which means during winter options are limited. All export items are expensive, but if you don't buy those, you shouldn't break the bank shopping for groceries. - Oct 2018

Ethiopia regularly experiences shortages of the following items: milk, flour, sugar, eggs, etc., etc., etc. Produce is very affordable and okay quality. Imports are very expensive and not reliable. Local milk contains aflatoxin which is a known carcinogen and is not recommended for drinking. The good meat in the country is exported to South Africa. There are some small growers that sell high quality, organic produce, but it is seasonal. All produce in Ethiopia is seasonal. Most expats find a network of friends to keep tabs on what is available in the local market so that they can buy it when it is in stock. EVERY EXPAT brings back meat, cheese, fish, yogurt, sour cream, etc. in their suitcases any time they travel outside of Ethiopia. - Aug 2018

Availability is not stable. Some items, such as sugar, imported butter, cream, Jasmine rice, glutinous rice, coconut milk, good orange juice, and long shelf rice milk, as such disappear from store shelves for a while. Due to depreciation of the ETB, businesses suffer from lack of hard cash like US$. With the high import tax and regulations, imported goods become scarce time to time and are quite expensive. With civil unrest happens in surrounding cities of Addis, roadblocks could happen, and vegetables and fruits can seem to cost 100% more than the previous week, and sometimes one cannot buy them. Groceries can be more expensive if you buy at supermarkets.

Throughout the year, you will see basic vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbages, tomatoes, garlic, green beans, peppers, beets, leeks, avocados in small local veggie shops, and additionally broccoli, cucumbers, zucchinis, herbs, red peppers, and others in super markets. Bananas are available throughout the year. Other fruits are seasonal or imported. Electronics such as kitchen appliances to fridge to washer seem expensive. - Jul 2018

The US embassy has a commissary, which has some things. Other items you can get in the local market, but many times there will be shortage of things like cream for cooking, sugar and at time gas for your car. Things here are very expensive especially if you want Western quality food products (if they are even available). Bring a big cooler for when you travel. - Jan 2018

The embassy commissary has a good selection of U.S. groceries, though at a significant markup. On the local market meat quality is very poor and vegetables often leave something to be desired, though the fruit is wonderful. You can even get locally-grown strawberries and raspberries here, very rare for the tropics. Cheese is not a big part of the local diet and is sometimes flown in frozen, which messes with the texture. People often bring back meat and cheeses in their suitcases from Nairobi or other international destinations. - Sep 2017

Hit-or-miss, expensive and crappy quality. Also, as someone else posted, you can't find everything you need at one store so you have to go to at least two or three. Because traffic is a constant nightmare AND there is, literally, no parking, this translates into an all-afternoon affair and not a cheap one at that. You can find some western things at some of the stores but you will pay through the nose for those. You can also hit the commissary up but be prepared for a limited quantity and to pay a huge mark-up. Wine/beer - you can get but don't expect the best quality and expect to pay more for it. HH supplies, like soap and bleach? Again, the quality is terrible. Bring a lot of that with you when come to will be thankful you did later. - Aug 2016

Meat is impossible here - unsanitary and unhealthy. Only reasonable meat is imported - from Kenya or South Africa. VERY expensive and always frozen. Often exhibiting signs of frozen/partially thawed/refrozen. For this reason, we rarely eat meat here. Because of poor transportation/shipping infrastructure in country, vegetables are highly seasonal and often of quite poor quality. Anything else is imported and VERY expensive. NO prepared or convenience food available at any price. Household supplies are of poor quality and often very expensive. - Aug 2016

Variable. It's a consumables post, and there's a reason for that. You can get most things, but not consistently and if it's imported it will be expensive. They periodically have shortages on staples, such as sugar and flour, so people often rely on the commissary or pouch for those types of items. Everyone at the embassy orders their meat in bulk from Kenya via the commissary because local meat is low quality. But produce is plentiful, good quality, and cheap. - Feb 2016

Produce is super cheap and generally good quality. Anything Western or imported tends to be very expensive. We used our consummables shipment and the pouch to major extent. - May 2014

If you divest yourself of expectations of having large U.S. style grocery stores, you'll really like the availability of seasonal produce. You have to shop around to find a store or fruit stand to meet your needs, but it's totally doable. Food is cheap, unless you go after processed foods. You have to clean your veggies and fruit. Instead of using bleach (yuck) we use a cap of food-grade hydrogen peroxide and a drop of grapefruit seed extract. No carcinogens and we have not been sick once during our year and a half here. - Jan 2014

Certain items can sometimes be hard to find or completely nonexistent. Cheese and seafood (in particular) are very difficult to find in any decent quality. If you want things you may be accustomed to in the U.S., be prepared to: A) accept alternate versions/similar products from the Middle East; b) pay at least as much here for them as you would in the U.S. The U.S. State Department classifies this as a "consumables" post so we are allowed limited shipments of things that aren't otherwise available. - Nov 2013

It is getting expensive. High inflation here. - Jun 2012

Anything local is cheap. Anything not local (e.g. European or other foreign wines, good cheeses, etc.) is quite expensive. - Aug 2010

Groceries are tougher to come by in Addis than many other places, as there are no large supermarkets. Shopping generally entails multiple stops at markets, specialty shops, and several supermarkets (which don't all carry the same items).Cost isn't too bad, but imported products (think olives, cheese, packaged goods) are very expensive. Good quality meat can be hard to find, and pork and seafood are almost non-existant. - Jun 2010

Though expensive, you can get most groceries and household supplies in Addis. I haven't been able to find 13-gallon trash bags or good sponges. Bring plenty of good cleaning supplies since they're hard to find here. - Mar 2008

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