Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Zurich is expensive, what else is new

In any given conversation, I'm likely to discuss at least one, if not all, of the following Zurich topics: the depressing weather, the road construction and resulting traffic, and the high prices (gas is $6.80/gallon here), particularly for food. I'd like to document some of these for my US readers who think prices are high there. You ain't seen nothing.

Below are some comparisons of US and Swiss food prices. I actually started weeping as I made this chart. I knew it was expensive here but when you see it in print, it's shocking. I used normal grocery store products (Safeway vs Migros), not fancy gourmet organic stuff. I also didn't take into account the additional savings available by shopping in bulk at Costco, etc.

Assume $1 = 1 swiss franc. When I moved here three years ago, it was $.78 = 1sfr. The franc is worth more but prices haven't dropped here. So although prices are relatively stable, everything seems even more expensive compared to the US. I've stated prices in normal US quantities, like gallons and pounds, not liters and kilos.

ProductUS priceZurich price% higher
Milk$5.80/galFr. 6.25/gal8%
Ground beef$3.50/lbFr. 7.87/lb124%
Beef Chuck Roast$2.49/lbFr. 14.37/lb422%
Beef Filet Mignon$16.99/lbFr. 38.00/lb124%
Beef Sirloin$6.19/lbFr. 32.40/lb423%
Pork Shoulder$2.49/lbFr. 13.00/lb422%
Lamb stew meat$5.99/lbFr. 22.00/lb267%
Whole chicken$1.69/lbFr. 4.41/lb160%
Boneless chicken breast$3.99/lbFr. 14.00/lb250%
Bacon$5.99/lbFr. 9.72/lb62%
Butter$3.99/lbFr. 6.75/lb70%
Ricotta$3.50/lbFr. 5.76/lb65%
Sweatshop eggs$.25/pieceFr. .40/piece60%
Free range eggs$.32/pieceFr. .80/piece150%

Some things are less expensive. Vanilla beans are dirt cheap, only 2.40sfr for 3 beans. In the US, I'd pay $11 for 2 beans. A small packet of saffron (.035oz) costs $16.59, while in Zurich, the same packet would cost about Fr. 5.20.

How do these high prices affect my shopping? When I first moved here, I was paralyzed by sticker shock and got really upset every time I shopped. But with a double-punch combo of simply ignoring the prices and slowly changed our eating habits, we survive. I didn't eat much meat in the US, but here, I've dramatically reduced our family's intake. In stews, chilis, spaghetti sauce, etc., I usually use about half the meat called for in a recipe (for stew, I use 1.5 pounds instead of 3) and still cringe at the price. I usually add more veggies and/or beans to compensate. I'm scared what might happen if I move back to the US. I might eat myself into oblivion just to take advantage of the low prices.


Alice said...

Nice comparison. I'm paralyzed by the spice prices. Just waiting for my sea shipment to arrive because I stocked up and shipped them home! HOORAY!!!!!

Zurich Mama Geek said...

Food prices are definitely a shock when you move here. I try not to think about it too much, because we do have to eat.

Amy Mc. said...

Very nice chart. I am a bit worried that whenever we move back to the US I am going to go on a spending spree because I just think that everything is so cheap. The funny thing is that mmany of the fruit and veggies here are cheaper than they were in Texas.

Inga said...

Wow - that really is shocking when you put it in a chart like that! I knew it was expensive here, but...yikes! It will be really easy for us to only buy organic, free-range, etc. when we move back to the U.S., since it will still be cheaper than here!

SwissMiss said...

Do a comparison of grains: flour, bread, rice, etc. and also fresh produce (lettuce, apples, oranges, bananas, etc.) Meat and dairy prices are artifically inflated here due to protectionism.

Julie Ramsay said...

Nice chart. Meat in Germany is definitely cheaper but its so far away. That's why vegetarism is so strong there!

Anonymous said...

How about organic produce and things of that nature? not everyone eats meat.

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