Trying to evaluate and compare ”food basket” costs in any country can be a controversial task. Colombian food costs certainly vary across the board depending on location. Unfortunately road infrastructure is not one of Colombia’s strengths. To begin with the country is very mountainous. Add to that years of neglect due to past political uncertainty. As as result moving goods tends to take longer and be more costly than necessary. Fortunately this is a fertile land and fresh fruits and vegetables are bountiful.
In the larger urban centres, there are a variety of supermarkets from which you can choose. Recently a large Chilean chain bought out the Carrefour stores and a very successful Portuguese grocery giant is beginning to make inroads as well. There are still the local ”mercados” and ”galerias” where you can buy direct and fresh from the producer, or at least with only one intermediary in the middle.
Medellin finds itself almost perfectly situated. Within a few hours drive, in any direction you can find completely different climatic zones that are perfect for producing almost any kind of vegetable or tropical fruit that you might desire. In Medellin there are two large markets, the Plaza Minorista – http://www.plazaminorista.com.co/sitio/contenidos_mo.php?c=273 or the Plaza Mayorista – http://www.lamayorista.com.co/site/eng/index.php?id_pagina=1 . Both websites give you current and up to date prices on various commodities.
In Cartagena, the local market is called Basurto. This is a hustling, bustling place where a great majority of the local population shop. It is not the safest place for tourists as you can easily be robbed or pick pocketed in seconds. As the tourist zone has grown, it is starting to encroach on Basurto. As a result it will be moved to the far end of the city. This is unfortunate in a way as Basurto truly is a ”carnival of life” but this will greatly ease the traffic congestion in this part of the city.
Recently our sister site in Ecuador produced an article comparing food costs in Ecuador and the United States. http://ecuador.escapeartist.com/food-costs-in-ecuador/ . Over the next few months we will be building on that article and comparing grocery store food costs in Medellin, Cali and Bogota.
Below is a chart comparing the prices in the US, Ecuador and Medellin, Colombia. There are two columns for Medellin. The first is solely grocery store prices. The second column reflects two changes. In some grocery stores it is possible to buy a flat of 30 eggs. In this volume the price per dozen drops to $1.47. Organic produce in grocery stores is pricey. In a farmer’s market that happens on El Poblado Medellin, it is possible to buy organic produce from a small producer. A head of organic lettuce is very inexpensive. With just these two changes, the shopping prices in Medellin drop to almost the same as in Ecuador. The prices were converted from Colombian pesos to Dollars at 1.900 COP per USD
|Food / Household Item||USA||Ecuador||Medellin||Medellin Alternative|
|Liter of Milk||$3.18||$1.04||$1.05||$1.05|
|3 Heads of Organic Lettuce||$5.12||$1.56||$6.35||$1.58|
|Round of Cheese 16 oz.||$5.98||$2.02||$2.60||$2.60|
|Rice – 5 lb.||$2.72||$0.88||$2.78||$2.78|
|2 Loaves Fresh Bread||$4.19||$2.48||$2.10||$2.10|
|Ground Organic Coffee 1 lb||$9.28||$4.56||$7.13||$7.13|
|1 lb Filet Mignon Steak||$13.99||$4.97||$9.65||$9.65|
|1 lb Pork||$8.59||$2.86||$2.87||$2.87|
|1 lb Seabass||$13.52||$7.19||$2.15||$2.15|
|Box of Cereal – 21 oz||$4.39||$5.89||$3.13||$3.13|
|Laundry Detergent 3 lb||$5.45||$1.99||$2.81||$2.81|
|Bar of Soap||$1.19||$0.82||$1.00||$1.00|
|Grocery Shopping Total:||$115.77||$55.93||$62.04||$56.38|