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Food Costs in Ecuador

The Daily Brief – The Price you Pay

Ecuador’s quality value pricing for an array of products, always seems to garner a great deal of media coverage.  Whether we are talking real estate values, low taxes, economical healthcare, or inexpensive business start-up costs, Ecuador shines in terms of relative value.  However, one has to wonder if Ecuador’s value pricing transcends beyond major economic items, to more common, routine, every day items.  With that in mind, we take on the often controversial topic of “food pricing” and will examine food costs in Ecuador.

I am sure by now many are wondering why do I use the word “controversial” to define the more mundane topic of “food pricing”?  Frequent readers might presume it is just more of that tongue-in-cheek commentary, of which I am occasionally guilty.  In this case, I am wholly serious.

For the purposes of food prices, I will compare USA pricing with that of Ecuador.  Simple enough, right? Not so fast!  The USA is a big country.  Prices in one region of the country, for food item “A”, can vary quite dramatically from the price of the same food item “A” in another region of the country.  Other factors, like regional economic realities, unemployment rates and the cost of gasoline can heavily impact food pricing, on a regional basis.  In short, someone in Los Angeles can shop for the exact same “grocery basket” as someone in Pittsburgh and the cost can vary…perhaps dramatically.

Now, let us consider Ecuador.  Not a huge country.  Geographically about the size of the state of Nevada. So, easy to conclude that the radical variances in pricing would not be prevalent in Ecuador. Again, not so fast!  Where are you doing your shopping in Ecuador?  The refined, so-called First World supermarket of MegaMaxi, in the commercial capitol of Guayaquil, or the local town market of Cotacachi, a much smaller, more rustic locale? Big difference in pricing!  Likewise, do you seek mostly imported items, or will you settle for the Ecuadorian variant?  Again, big difference in pricing.

In conclusion, no matter what data we present or the precise conclusion we reach, it can be – and will be – debated extensively.  Candidly, some of that debate will have merit, for reasons already cited.  Some, will likely not. Our objective is to strike the best possible balance.

In effort to reach the aforementioned balance, we will try to compare like-for-like products, where possible, on a national average basis.  For example, if we are comparing a box of Frosted Flakes, we will not utilize the Ecuadorian equivalent, but the actual Kellog’s brand…again, where possible.  However, we may provide additional commentary to consider alternative options.  With that all in mind, let us look at some side-by-side pricing comparison for common grocery purchase costs.

Food / Household Item



Dozen Eggs



Liter of Milk



Dozen Bananas



2 Avocados



3 Heads of Organic Lettuce



Yogurt 30 oz.



Round of Cheese 16 oz.



Rice 5 lb



2 Loaves Fresh Bread



Ground Organic Coffee 1 lb



Rotisserie Chicken



1 lb Filet Mignon Steak



1 lb Pork



1 lb Seabass



Box of Cereal



Laundry Detergent 3 lb



Bar of Soap



Dozen Roses



Grocery Shopping Total:

                    $115.77                    $55.93

As can be seen, food costs in Ecuador can represent a significant costs savings, assuming you shop wisely and not merely for convenience.  Those savings can approach 50% and even slightly beyond, depending on the item mix. However, this does not mean, as illustrated in the basket of groceries example above, that all grocery food items will be less expensive in Ecuador.  Your particular diet and preferences could impact, perhaps significantly, the variances illustrated in our example.

However, on the other hand, if you are willing to shop for local brands and eschew imported items, the savings illustrated and more can readily be attained.  This is significantly true for a wide array of varying products.  Additionally, there exists the quality of items analysis.  For example, not only is organic coffee in Ecuador cheaper, but the locally grown quality seems to exceed the freshness and taste of many USA brands.  Counter-balancing that, the price of filet-mignon in Ecuador is considerably less expensive, but you will seldom find equivalent finer cuts, like you do in the USA.

Still, looking at the side-by-side comparison “basket of groceries” example, it is hard to ignore the value advantage offered by Ecuador.  With some smart shopping, you can eat as well or better and keep some extra cash in your wallet or purse.  If it is important to stretch your retirement dollars, or you are just a frugal expat, looking to set aside as much money as possible to partake of some of the many wonderful investment opportunities that Ecuador offers, then you might be comforted to know that Ecuador’s value pricing also extends to the simple, every day, basic items you will likely purchase.  Come on down and learn a bit more about living economically in Ecuador!

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