FAQ: What is the Cost of Grocery Shopping in Loja, Ecuador?

Frequently asked questions about the cost of living in Loja include how much a monthly grocery bill is and how do food costs compare to the US and Canada? The reality is that grocery costs vary widely in Ecuador just like they do in the US, depending on where in the country you live and where you choose to go shopping. For example, a dozen eggs in New York City will cost you around $4.15, while in Idaho Falls they cost $1.89 for twelve. In Quito, Ecuador, eggs are about $1.96 a dozen; in Loja they are around $1.65. These averages from  Numbeo, a global crowdsourced database, provide a starting point for our food cost discussion. Looking at just one item, however, it is already possible to generalize that the cost of basic foods throughout Ecuador is comparable to what it would be in the less expensive areas of the US.

“...the cost of basic foods throughout Ecuador is comparable to what it would be in the less expensive areas of the US….”

Price variations within a locality are what make the difference in the food component of your annual cost of living in the US and in Ecuador. Shoppers in New York, New York, one of the most expensive areas of the US, nonetheless can find quite a range of food prices, depending on if they have those eggs delivered via Instacart from a fancy upscale grocery store like Dean & Deluca, run to the corner store on their block, or drive to a Walmart discount ‘supercenter.’ Loja is no different. You can pay $1.20 for twelve fresh eggs at your neighborhood’s weekly outdoor ‘free market’ sponsored by the municipality, or pay $1.75 at one of the indoor fresh market ‘Mercados’ (image; el Telegrafo) also built and maintained by the city. In both of these settings, private small vendors will compete side-by-side to bring you the freshest fruits, veggies, dairy, and meats produced in the province. Loja is considered a ‘food basket’ - growing hundreds of varieties of fresh foods - because of the number of local small farms operating in our very diverse climatic and geographic system.

Privately-owned supermarkets and neighborhood ‘tienda’ convenience stores in Loja will also have quite a range of food costs. Before the 900-lb gorilla of a corporation, Favorita, brought its premium grocery chain Supermaxi to the city and then doubled down on dominating retail food market sales here by opening up their Gran Aki big(ish) box store (image: Diaro Chronica), shoppers in Loja could go to smaller local grocery stores like Zerimar to get everything on their list in one stop. The smaller local grocery stores have fresh and packaged foods that you will recognize but with unfamiliar brand names. You can find comfort foods like peanut butter, jelly, cellophane wrapped bread, bologna, and American cheese slices, for example. If produced in Ecuador or South America, they will be comparable or lower-priced than in the US’s smaller grocery stores. It’s when you enter the rarefied atmosphere of Favorita’s big chain stores that you experience sticker shock with familiar North American brands like Jif Peanut Butter which is imported to South America with duties added into the price. In the big Ecuadorian chains, a dozen eggs will cost you on average $3.00 a dozen. Taking price differences at Loja’s various shopping venues into account, as of this writing, you will pay an average of $2.40 a dozen for eggs, an average which is skewed by the expensive grocery chains.  Realistically, eggs in Loja are widely available for under $2.00 a dozen.

If you choose to fill your market basket with locally produced fresh staples from the neighborhood outdoor markets or downtown municipal mercados, you can slash your food budget to next to nothing. Here is an image by Peter Menzel from his series on ‘What the World Eats’ of a rural Ecuadorian family in the mountains northwest of Loja. It shows you what nine people can live on spending about $32 dollars a week. Pictured are the same varieties of fresh vegetables and grains on sale in Loja’s outdoor markets and mercados. Most of us will likely want a few more convenience and prepared foods in our shopping cart. Numbeo gives the following self-reported prices for some staples. One kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds and a liter is just shy of a US quart, so prices are very reasonable compared to supermarkets in the US.

If you have more questions about what a food budget might be in Loja, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to help you arrive at a more individualized estimate.

This blog post is an example of how the team at Life in Loja helps tourists and visitors, expats and immigrants, to better appreciate the many aspects of living in Loja, Ecuador. If you would like to know more about our custom tours and relocation services then contact us by email or phone/WhatsApp at 593-098-674-5994 to begin a conversation.


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