This article complements the series of “Living in Germany”, to assist people who are planning to move or have recently moved to Germany. Here I list you options and insider tips on where you can buy your groceries in Germany. This post is by no means sponsored by any companies or parties.
I don’t think there’s any country without supermarkets. Even the minuscule islands country in the middle of the wide open ocean, like Micronesia has some. Germany with at least 81,9 millions* citizen has around 55,000 supermarkets in the country. Supermarket is the first thing comes to people mind when they think about grocery shopping, because of the efficiency, convenience and competitive price.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
- Supermarkets in Germany are rather small in size, compared to (for example) the US supermarkets.
- On cities’ outskirt, however, you can find the big-sized supermarkets, such as Real and Kaufland. Both has a very wide price range.
- If you shop for trading, business or as a freelancer, you can go to a giant supermarket called Metro. Here you can buy at retail price.
- Shops are only open from Monday to Saturday. To open business on Sunday is expensive because employee have to pay Sunday surcharge for their employment. Beside, Sunday is for taking a break for the German folks.
- Most shops close at 8 PM, some at the city center at 10 PM. Employee are to be paid surcharge to work after 9 PM.
- Since the last ten years, there’s a line of special supermarket like “REWE City” that opens until midnight. Normally located in the city center near busy public transportation hub.
- There’s no such things like a 24-hours supermarket in Germany, therefore you have to go to the gas or central train station to find such shops.
Upper Price Range Supermarkets
You can take a look at their fruits and vegetables, they are very well-presented and in appealing colors. The staffs sprinkle them with water and neatly stack them frequently. These are some of the reasons why the prices are higher, because obviously it demands extra work and extra work means extra costs. The other reason is the advertisement, which is widely ranged from online till tv ads. And well, of course quality plays its role in this, at least sometimes you get what you pay for.
Supermarkets like REWE and Edeka are the leading companies in this price range. Here you can find products from big brands such as Unilever, Nestle, etc. Anyway, they also created their own brands, which supposedly cheaper. In this case, Edeka has Gut & Günstig as their store brand and REWE has Ja!, they both are ultimately cheaper compared to the big brands. Then there’s Beste Wahl from REWE, that’s also comparedly cheaper but has a gourmet feeling about it. Buying basic breakfast and dinner grocery cost me 20-30 € weekly.
However, studies say many supermarkets in Germany sell the same products, same quality with different brands and packages for different price that can reach up to 50% more. The German society is a rather critical folks and therefore the companies’ transperancy is highly seek. We, of course, understand that business is business — but fairness and people’ well-being are still prior to companies’ profits. Verbraucherverband (consumers association) and Stiftung Warentest (customer safety group on product testing) are huge deals in this country.
Lower Price Range Supermarkets
ALDI is the pioneer and still the leading market of the lower price supermarket in Germany. Mr. Karl and Theo Albrecht named his shop to an acronym of Albrecht Diskont, which later inspired a nickname Discounter for this kind of supermarkets. The Albrecht brothers splited this company into ALDI Nord (northern Germany) and ALDI Süd (southern Germany). and run them with the same business strategy and philosophy ALDI exclusively sells its own brands and prevent fancy shop display and decoration to give their customer the lowest possible price.
LIDL Supermarket has the same principle like ALDI, but they also sell big brands such as Unilever, Nestlé, etc.
Even big and expensive supermarkets like Edeka & REWE branch out to the lower price range business. Netto Supermarket is the sister company of Edeka, which falls into category Discounter Supermarket. So is Penny, with REWE as its big sister. They sell a lot of stuff from their sister companies under different brands and packagings for a cheaper price. Buying basic breakfast and dinner groceries cost me only 10-15 € weekly.
Wochenmarkt/Bauernmarkt (Weekly Farmer’s Market)
You’ll find Farmer’s Market at the city center, on a square called Marktplatz. It’s normally held 1-3 times a week from morning to noon, or a little bit pass noon on Saturday. Here you’ll find many vendors from your local farmers in the region. I love to explore the vendors which sell fancy cheese, salami and other delicatessen. You can also buy fresh and healthy seasonal groceries such as asparagus from April to May (I’m an asparagus lover and always buy a lot during the season). While during June-August I can find various berries, from strawberries, blueberries to raspberries. In September, the markets are filled with new wine from the year or the last’s year. During the end of summer to early fall, from September to October you can find pumpkins, butternuts, fig-leaf gourds, winter squashes, etc. It’s always an experience to shop at the Wochenmarkt, any season of the year.
The freshness and originality of traditionally cultivated food has its price tough, you will spend more money buying at the market than at the supermarket. I, personaly, prefer to buy quality over quantity for my fruits and veggies. They normally cost me 5-7 € to buy 1-2 days food at the market.
Tante-Emma-Laden (Aunt Emma’s Shop)
Aunt Emma can be anyone who sells groceries and daily needs in a small shop in your neighborhood. I can buy anything from candy, canned food, carrot, vinegar, salt to knife and even fix my bike at the nearest Tante Emma Laden back in my hometown. Tante Emma has its charm and somehow brings back childhood memories. Unfortunately, with the growing number of supermarkets in Germany, I can hardly find one nowadays.
Türkenladen (Turkish Shop)
You can easily find Turkish Shops in a distric where a lot of Turks reside. This kind of shop sells mostly fruits, veggies and imported turkish grocery products with Halal certification — but also fresh homemade turkish snacks, breads and pastries. Good news for you, it’s mostly open on Sunday too! So you can buy eggs or bread you forgot to buy at the weekend here.