Today, we are talking about, grocery shopping!
First of all, I have to give you a brief background introduction. I am now living in the city center of Cologne with my boyfriend. Our groceries are done at the local chain supermarket next to our home. The frequency is about once a week and usually is for two people for a week.
When we went shopping last week, I took a photo of our shopping results.
500g of dried figs and almond flakes breakfast oatmeal
1L of milk
4 boxes of 500g quark
1 tube of toothpaste
1 box of mushrooms
1 jar of raspberry jam
1 bag of potato chips
600g of chocolate chip breakfast oats
4 plates of 100g chocolate
8 sticks of Kinder chocolate
1 piece of 250g butter
1 German bread
1 box of vegetables
1 plate chocolate wafer
1 box of chocolate cookies
2 packs of 500g German dark bread
400g sliced ButterCheese
2 boxes of 500g tomato paste
1 box of coffee powder
400g of lean pork
1kg of chicken breast
200g sliced Salami
2 packs of 500g pasta
All the above things cost almost 45 Euros, which is about 350 RMB.
Speaking from my personal life experience, this price is quite good.
My most recent shopping in China was at Wal-Mart, which I went to with my parents two or three years ago, in the suburbs of Beijing.
I remember buying food for a family of three for the next couple of days, which cost about four to five hundred yuan (about 65 euros). Sometimes we like to make a traditional lamb hotpot at home, it costs hundreds of Yuan just to buy the lamb rolls.
But at the same time, prices are still quite different in big cities and small cities in China.
Prices in Shanghai and Beijing will be more expensive than in other cities. In addition, imported food is more expensive, also the same case for imported wines.
But my personal experience can not speak for all, so I did a small survey in my WeChat moment (combined person and fan account, which in total is a group of 15,000 people).
Among the 33 people who responded, after removing 5 invalid responses, 6 of them thought the price was expensive, 8 of them thought it was similar/moderate, and 14 of them thought it was cheap.
Although most people think that prices in Germany are relatively cheap, there are factors such as “imported goods” and “not available here(for the products of the same quality)”, so many people do not only consider price when comparing.
In addition, people living in developed countries such as “South Korea”, “UK”, and “Canada” tend to think that the prices in Germany are cheaper.
But, why are prices in Germany relatively low?
The first is the government’s subsidies for agricultural products, which makes food prices in supermarkets subject to a certain degree of control.
However, while the prices of supermarket commodities goes down, the impact on the surrounding environment and agricultural development cannot be overseen.
When I lamented that German agricultural products are so cheap, my German friend told me that it was because of government subsidies that farmers felt that they could make money anyway, so they planted a large number of crops that were the easiest to grow, which caused the surrounding soil and environmental degradation.
我查阅了一些相关的资料，发现很有趣的一个称呼叫做“butter mountains” (黄油小丘)(Environmentally Harmful Subsidies In Germany, 2014)，因为政府保证你无论种植什么都会有一个最基本的收入，所以大量毫无收益的草场就出现了。
After reading some papers, I found an interesting name called “butter mountains” – because the government guarantees that you will have a basic income no matter what you plant, a large number of unprofitable pastures appeared(Environmentally Harmful Subsidies In Germany, 2014).
It’s not just the Germans who complain about this. Articles in recent years also show that many African countries are not happy with it either.
A recent best-selling economics book called <The Almighty Dollar> mentioned that the huge EU subsidy system has caused thousands of African farmers to lose their livelihoods. This is called “Dumping on the Poor”.(“Dumping on the Poor: The Common Agricultural Policy, the WTO and International Development”, 2020)
Because European countries dump thousands of tons of subsidized exports in Africa every year, local African producers cannot compete fairly on their own land. As a result, it is difficult for the local area to develop its own agricultural economy and can only rely on European products.
不仅仅是德国人对此有些怨言，最近几年的研究还表明，非洲人也不是很开心！一本叫做<The Almighty Dollar> （万能的美元）的经济学畅销书中提到，庞大的欧盟补贴制度使成千上万的非洲农民丧失了生计，这被称为 “穷人倾销”(“Dumping on the Poor: The Common Agricultural Policy, the WTO and International Development”, 2020)。由于欧洲国家每年在非洲倾销数千吨的补贴出口，因此非洲本地生产商无法在自己的土地上公平竞争。从而当地很难发展自己的农产品经济，只能依赖欧洲的产品。
In addition, competition in various discount supermarkets in Germany also play a role in the cheap food prices.
Take the German supermarket chain ALDI as an example. There are basically one every few kilometers in most German cities. Its stores have also opened in the United States and Australia. You must be wondering, how can a foreign supermarket compete with those local giants like Walmart?
Surprisingly, most of the time, ALDI can actually be cheaper than these giants (especially on European products). This also why I liked visiting German supermarkets such as ALDI when I was traveling in the United States.
以德国连锁超市ALDI为例，在德国城市中基本几公里一个。它的连锁店还开到了美国和澳洲，你一定会想，国外的超市要怎么和当地的巨头 – 特别是沃尔玛这种 – 所竞争呢？
No matter which country I visit, I always like to go to the local supermarket and see what the locals usually eat and use. It is also a very authentic experience for me.
South Korea: I like their 24-hour convenience store culture, but their fruits can also be quite pricy (comparing with the Chinese standard). The 800g orange in the picture is about RMB 32 (4 euro).
Mongolia: It is obvious to see the shortage of supply in their stores, and they rely heavily on imports.
Canada: Expensive everyday food, high cost of living, especially when compared with their income. In the picture on the right, 800g of chicken costs 11 Canadian dollars (55 RMB, 7 euro), and the same chicken is 4 Euros (30 RMB) in Germany. The most common 1L package of milk in Canada is 2.32 Canadian dollars (12 RMB, 1.5 euro), and the most common 1L package of milk in Germany is about 0.6 Euro (4.5 RMB).