Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

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

US foods are expensive. Shopping locally is very cheap. - Apr 2024

Groceries are about half the price of the US, but my helper buys everything from a wet market. The grocery store is a bit more expensive (perhaps 3/4 the price of the US). Everything you need can be found here, unless you want a very specific brand (i.e. you can get ranch dressing, but maybe not Hidden Valley ranch). - Mar 2023

Despite the lack of COLA, groceries are rather expensive. You can get just about anything but it costs more than back home. My children loved eating blueberries and strawberries, for example, but prices were 2-4 times more than we’re used to. American brands for anything food and retail-related are easily available. - Mar 2023

Some things are unbelieavably cheap, some things are quite reasonable, some things, in my opinion, are just stupid expensive. Local products (particularly chicken and pork) are usually quite cheap. Imported items are usually pricey (sometimes unbelievably so - 30$ for a bag of Kirkland Trail Mix), but sometimes you can find really good deals. If you see something you like, stock up, as you might never see it again. There are a number of nice/okay supermarkets in Subic, a few of which carry items that are usually difficult or impossible to find anywhere else in the Philippines (IE: Cranberry sauce). In general, the shopping in Subic is more foreigner-friendly than other places in the Philippines. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be hard to come by (depending on the time of year). A lot of Filipino food, in general, is quite unhealthy and full of additives/salt/sugar/fats. Diary and beef products are very pricey. 10$ for a gallon of milk is not unusual. - May 2022

Many western groceries are available, but the cost is surprisingly high, even for local foods. Imported vegetables are very expensive. If you are paying for your utilities, electricity is outstandingly expensive. - Apr 2021

More than anywhere else I've ever lived in the world, they have everything you would buy in America, even peanut butter. Due to the colonial history of America, the Philippines has adopted most American dietary habits, for better and for worse. Fried chicken, pizza, fast food, and even Mexican-American cuisine like tacos and burritos can be found widely. Craving mango salsa or a Thanksgiving Turkey dinner with a side of pumpkin pie? You're in the right place. However, be aware that some local versions may have a slightly different flavor than what Americans might be used to. Also, some niche items may be difficult to find. If anyone finds good, fresh, Kalamata olives, I would love to know where it is. - Oct 2020

You can get everything for a price. Dairy items are very expensive. Chicken and pork are very affordable here. Vegetables can actually be pricey here. Many of my vegetarian friends complain that it is expensive to be a vegetarian here, but it can be done. I had a hard time finding graphing calculators and when I did they were too expensive to buy. My mom had to buy me one and send it to my DPO. - Feb 2020

Cost is higher. If you shop at the warehouse shopping here (S&R) the prices are slightly better. Almost everything is available; you just may pay more for goods. I do much shopping on Amazon for anything I don't need right away. - May 2018

Nearly everything is available here, as long as you’re willing to look for it, although cost can vary considerably. Local fruit and rice are dirt cheap and good quality. Local vegetables and eggs/meat/fish are also cheap, but quality varies wildly depending on when and where you shop. Dairy can be expensive, as Filipino food doesn’t use a lot of milk, and Filipinos (like other Asians) are often lactose intolerant. Food that’s imported from the US or Europe – berries, cheese, beef, turkey, salmon - can be prohibitively expensive, although S&R (the local big-box grocery) or one of the boutique shops will occasionally have a deal. Embassy personnel also have access to the DPO, so in the outside chance you can’t find something, you can order it from Amazon or Walmart. - Feb 2017

Prices are generally comparable to what you would pay in the States. There are a number of high-end grocery stores in Makati and Fort Bonofacio but unless you live in the Fort most grocery options will require a short drive. Seafront is close to a Sam's Club and Super Wal-mart type groceries. Substantial savings on fruits, vegetables, and local seafood are possible if you (or a domestic) shop at local markets. Good beef and dairy are tough to find and cost accordingly. The same goes for non-local seafood. Good bread is almost impossible to find outside of the Fort. - Jul 2016

Hire a helper to go to the market for fruits and veggies, you'll age a lot. If you're picky and need American brand, you'll spend a lot of money. Otherwise I'd say it's on par with the States or maybe more expensive for day to day items. I order a lot of snacks on Amazon. - Jan 2016

Restaurants tend to be less expensive than in the U. S., while supermarkets are on a par with U. S. prices. However, imported items often cost significantly more than in the U. S. (cheese and other dairy products, for example). Unhealthy additives are also widespread. For example, MSG in grocery items, and sugar added to most brands of milk. I find grocery shopping disheartening in Manila. - Jan 2016

I buy groceries about once a week for a family of 4 (with lots of fruit) for about 100 bucks. Weekend farmers' markets in Salcedo and in Legazpi villages are usually more expensive than the stores. Tomatoes here are usually not very good, and if they are good they are very expensive. Chicken and pork are cheapest kinds of meat. Overall, there are several different chains of grocery stores, including a Costo-type S&R and a super-nice deli (Santi's) with European meats and wine. - Jan 2016

Cheap in comparison to the USA. No fresh milk here. Most Asians are lactose-intolerant. - Sep 2015

It's pricey to live here. We spend the same amount on groceries here as we did in the states. Our helper will sometimes get us better deals at local markets. - Aug 2015

Availability is sporadic. "Out of stock, ma'am" is a regular phrase, including of what Americans would think are everyday vegetables. Cost is very high. We just went to the grocery yesterday where local broccoli peaked at over US$6 a pound. While that price is certainly higher than normal, it is difficult to get produce for reasonable prices other than okra, bitter melon, and some local greens. Rainy season is the worst, so that you can count on not eating cauliflower or decent tomatoes, for instance, during that time. Lots of local things like spaghetti sauce have aspertame or MSG added - not something I'm used to eating. Pet food and cat litter are expensive and often low quality. - Aug 2015

Twice as much as the U.S. - Sep 2014

The cost of groceries are higher in Manila than the rest of the Philippines with the exception of some other large cities that are also quite expensive. The outer Provinces are where you can find foods that are less expensive. - Jan 2014

Most everything is available and if it's not available, it's easily shipped by DPO. All costs are the same as you'd pay in America. - Dec 2013

If you buy U.S. products only, probably 10% higher than DC prices. If you buy on the local market, much cheaper. - Nov 2013

You can find almost anything with most boxed items costing at least as much as in the U.S., fruits & vegetables are relatively inexpensive. We buy a lot of stuff on Amazon. - Aug 2013

It depends on whether you buy locally-produced food or imported items. American goods are available, but they can be a little pricey. - Apr 2013

At the places we tend to shop, it is slightly more expensive than shopping in the U.S. We do not have a helper, and it wouldn't be feasible for us to shop in local markets on our own. If you shop mainly around the edges of the grocery store (fresh veggies, meat, dairy), prepare to be very disappointed. Even though this is a rice country, rice here is terrible. And despite being surrounded by ocean, it is very difficult to get good seafood. Although the weather is great and there is lots of arable land, fresh vegetables are terrible. Meat is a mixed bag---local chicken and pork are very good, but beef is not. Tropical fruit is fantastic. If you buy more processed foods than fresh foods, you will find a lot more availability of American goods than in other third-world countries---but they are more expensive. - Feb 2013

Groceries are surprisingly expensive. You can find most anything here, but since much is imported, prices can be high. Also, you can't always find things when you want them. The store is often out of speciality items when you need them: taco mix, ricotta cheese, that sort of thing. - Sep 2012

Everything is available. Groceries cost about twice as much as in the U.S. if you are shopping at the local “Costco” or Rustans where you can find imported products. If you brave the open markets (hanging raw chicken in tropical heat, etc.) or shop the bargain supermarkets, you can save some money. The local foods have more additives, less hygienic processing of perishable and meat items, and don’t require labeling. It is worth it to accompany your helper on a shopping trip to see where your food is coming from. - May 2012

Groceries are the only part where you'll be spending some money -- luckily eating out is cheap, so it evens out at the end. If you buy Filipino products you can save some money, but for imported goods you'll be paying a pretty penny. Most expats have a membership at S&R when you can find lots of American products (for a price). As for produce, you can find pretty much anything, and the fruits are also amazing. We prefer to buy them at the Saturday Market in Makati for better quality than the grocery stores. - Mar 2012

If your expecting American or European quality - few and far between. Many of us shop at S&R, which is basically Costco here. Produce is not always good. Expect produce to rot or go bad sooner than it would in the States. It is also limited in quantities and type. A lot of people buy canned or frozen. - Jan 2012

Fruits, vegetables, and meats are a lot cheaper than in the US. Any packaged item that was not made in the Philippines, is more expensive. US food items and products can be purchased from S&R, a Sam's Club equivalent, and Rustans, a grocery store chain catering to Makati and Fort Bonifacio residents. These two are significantly costlier than the normal supermarkets. - Jul 2011

Depends on where you want to shop. There is a Costco-like shoppers club called S&R that carries just about all of the American products you could wish for. As does Rustan's grocery and Market! Market! in the Fort. If you shop at the local markets, food can be VERY affordable. - May 2011

We have found groceries and supplies to be expensive. - May 2011

Household supplies can be expensive, if you want the brands you know from the U.S. Groceries are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, if you are willing to shop at local supermarkets like Hypermarket, Robinsons, or Cash n Carry. The overall quality is very good. European and Japanese brands are readily available at reasonable prices. U.S. goods can also be found, particularly at S&R (Sam's Club), but are much more expensive on the whole. - Feb 2010

Lots of available stuff here, but you have to go to many different stores. For example, didn't see EGGO waffles for about 9 months. Suddenly found them at a regular store I shop. Went back this week and they are GONE!You hear lots of "out of stock, ma'am".Once you figure out where to get things it's fine. I also order anything I can't get on There are less options for healthy snacks for kids than in the U.S.Lots of MSG in things also. - Jan 2010

Overall, the prices are about what you would pay in the U.S. Local produce is cheaper, but imported goods such as cereal, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies are much more. - Jul 2009

If you eat like an American you will pay the same on groceries. If you eat like a Filipino, which I couldn't manage to do, you can save a lot of money. - Apr 2009

Pretty much everything can be found eventually, but selection and availability can be spotty. Imported goods usually come from the U.S. or Canada and are very expensive. Grocery stores carry a wide selection of goods, but buying fruit and vegetables from the local markets is a cheaper option, with a better selection of fresh produce. - Jun 2008

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