Having a favourite supermarket is one of the first steps of growing up. Whether you agree or not, there are certain stores that you know always have in stock what you are looking for, whether it is a fresh salad or quality steak, or a bargain on coffee, toilet paper and other necessities. South Africa’s largest participants in this competition are Woolworths, Checkers, Pick n Pay and Spar. But where do you go when you are abroad?

Our overseas friends weigh up the same categories when deciding which supermarket is a cut above the average. Discover the most popular options in some countries with us.


According to an article by Choice, an Australian group that takes care of consumers, the value of supermarkets in Australia is not determined by share prices, but rather by buyers’ opinions. After all, they are the ones spending the money.

Foodland, which is based in South Australia, rises above other popular Australian supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths. According to buyers Foodland is so popular because the variety and quality of products and customer service are more important than bargains and sales. Coles, the supermarket you regularly see on TV shows like MasterChef Australia and My Kitchen Rules, is considered Foodland’s biggest competition.

Then, of course, there is the South African Woolies’ namesake, Woolworths. In South Africa, Woolworths is a favourite among young professionals and the middle class; they offer a wide range of products, ranging from skincare products and clothing to fresh produce and homemade meals. In Australia, however, Woolworths only offers fresh veggies, fruit, meat and houseware. Do not expect to find the same variety in an Australian Woolies as in a South African one.

United States of America

Although fast food is big in the US, they have no shortage of supermarkets. On the contrary, the US has such a large variety of supermarkets that you will struggle not to find a product. For grocery shopping, the equivalent of South Africa’s Woolworths is stores such as Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s, while Costco is similar to the South African Makro or Game. The price of fresh vegetables and fruits varies considerably from state to state. If you pay $20 for a fresh avocado in New York, the same avocado might only cost you $3 in Arizona.

The US one-size-fits-all store is of course Walmart. There you can find everything from clothes and video games to art supplies and fresh vegetables and fruits. Think of that famous children’s game: “If you could stay in one store for the rest of your life, which store would it be?” In the US, the answer will always be Walmart.


Two equally popular UK supermarkets are Waitrose and Tesco. Waitrose is similar to a South African Woolworths, while Tesco serves more of a middle-class market. According to an article by Expatica, Tesco focuses on price rather than quality. People who prefer “organic and fresh produce” go to markets rather than supermarkets.

As in South Africa, plastic bags are sold and not supplied free of charge; in that way supermarkets cut costs and at the same time support the “Green Revolution”. Supermarkets are legally required to be closed on major holidays, so plan ahead if you are visiting Britain soon.

New Zealand

Like other countries, New Zealand has some well-known supermarkets, e.g. New World, Countdown, PAK’nSAVE, Four Square and FreshChoice. Shopping at these stores and cooking at home or at your guesthouse or hotel will be much cheaper than eating out. And of course, even New Zealand has a Woolworths! Just like in Australia, they only focus on groceries and you will not find the same kind of products there as in a South African Woolies.

PAK’nSAVE is similar to South Africa’s Shoprite or even Pick n Pay; they focus on quantity for low prices rather than on quality. All fresh produce in New Zealand comes at a hefty price as most of New Zealand’s meat and indigenous fruits and vegetables are exported. Tourists are therefore advised to get a tourist loyalty card; it will enable you to get bargains everywhere, and it usually includes tour-specific necessities.

As in South Africa, you have to test a few supermarkets before you can decide what works for you and what does not. Our advice? Try each store once before you decide. Decide in advance what is important to you – do you prefer quality or quantity? Is customer service important to you, or are you just looking for something that feels like home? Choose for yourself!

This post is also available in: Afrikaans


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