There are huge contrasts in what you would have in a supermarket back in the UK or US compared to what you will find in the Philippines. Most Supermarkets are owned by wealthy families and carry mainly daily products rather than a vast selection of food. E.g. nearly all coffee in stores is “Nescafe” same as most milk. Which on a positive note I was happy to see that Nestle is feeling the pain of the fake trade out of China as its monopoly needs a bit of competition even if its with itself. Either way if you like your huge range back in the West your about to have your wings clipped or an expensive box sent to you every couple of months for the stuff you can’t live without. What I have learned here is that its like a stepping back in time as as long as you can find the ingredients you can make a lot of the food you miss (if you can cook or find someone who can).
There is a huge difference in quality between the various stores aswell. If you go to Gaisano for example its generally dusty the stock is of general merchandise for the local population but also worth checking the dates on food as some appear to be “end of life” stock where you may assume buying something is good for months you might find the date (if it still has it as often dates have been removed) its a lot sooner than expected. Robinsons and Rustans seem to stock a smaller range in their supermarkets but would cater for what would be “middle class” I do find the imported goods are often overpriced and would recommend balikbayan boxes being sent to you as it would work out cheaper in the long run. Makro which was a Sari-Sari supplier sort of operation has been bought by SM which will quickly turn it into another SM store as they “don’t see the need for this type of operation”. Which to me is the complete opposite to what I think as the one in Cebu for example that they will change to an SM supermarket is within a stones throw of SM Mall that has an SM Grocery store and Park Mall which also has an SM Grocery store which is all part of the problem there is no real competition between companies here which is why they can limit ranges and keep prices high. La Nueva is a store that has a few branches in Cebu not sure if its throughout the Philippines aswell they are mainly catering for the small Sari-Sari but I find although their range is limited they are cheaper and we stock a lot of our Sari-Sari items from there.
But for general groceries its a bit mixed. We get fresh produce from the market but that is obviously limited to mainly local supply so for a lot of vegetables etc. you will need to get some from the Supermarkets because of them being imported generally from Thailand. I am hoping to develop our own garden here at some point to help with this problem as well as giving us fresh food we will know what went into making it. Meat products are often just as cheap to buy cooked as they are raw so things like chicken we often just buy from a BBQ store nearby as and when we need it. The difference in price is literally a few pesos between cooked and buying it at a supermarket. Snack foods we rarely buy as they are over priced and although I do enjoy a good packet of crisps its mainly US imports or local so I learned to do without. Even the Cadburys chocolates come from Malaysia to a texture and taste I can’t eat.
But don’t let things like that stop you coming as eating out there is a huge variety of restaurants and it seems more open up every month but you will often find things like Indian food with local rice instead of Basmati which taints the flavour a little due to being used to the Basmati or wine that hasn’t travelled so well in the hot climate. But its all stuff that can be adjusted to as well as the fact seafood here is cheap and good quality. A bit of a roll reversal as the prices on the seafood are expensive in the UK and something we eat regular here so I suppose the other factor is healthier eating. Mainly on a diet of chicken and fish can’t be bad. Although April still loves her Baboy (Pork) which is something I generally don’t eat but would advise trying Sisig which is made from a pigs face but is spicey and tasty.