Cost of living in Denmark: Groceries

Where do you think it is cheapest to shop for groceries, London or Sonderborg?

We moved to Sonderborg from north west London and before we left London we went to our local supermarket, Sainsbury Kilburn, and got prices (without getting arrested) for a typical big shopping trip for us. We went to our new local supermarket in Sonderborg, Bilka, and found the same items. The items we put on the list are our most typical items for groceries shopping.

Iceland on Kilburn High Road closing

We colour coded the items so you can see what is cheapest where. Green means it’s cheaper in Sonderborg, red/yellow means it’s cheaper in London. Here is what we found:

When shopping in Denmark we have been quite shocked by the prices of beans, lentils and couscous. But looking at our result here pasta and rice are also vastly more expensive in Denmark. At the end of Perlegade we have found an ethnic supermarket that is slightly cheaper and with good quality products.

We did not buy yoghurt or cheese but it’s my experience that dairy products are cheaper in Denmark than UK. Likewise fish and some meat products (apart from minced) also seem cheaper in Denmark.

Unlike most countries Denmark has a flat VAT rate of 25% on everything. In UK (and most other countries) unprocessed food has a reduced or zero VAT rate. With the Danish “Fat Tax” and other behaviour adjusting taxes it is no wonder that Danes cross borders to shop. It is estimated that 12 billion kroner or the equivalent to 4% of what is spent in Danish shops takes place abroad.

Of course, this is not the most scientific of surveys! First of all, prices were noted on different dates some 3 months apart. The sample shopping also has more meat to vegetable than we would normally get and our selection is not that wide. Nevertheless, you can still get a good idea of shopping costs.

We have gone for the cheapest brand, usually the store brand where possible. If the weights were not the same we converted the weight/price. For comparison we used the exchange rate of October 27, 2011 with 1GBP = kr. 8.5571. The prices in London were collected on October 27, 2011 the prices in Denmark were collected mid-January. Here is a link to the spreadsheet with the data.

10 thoughts on “Cost of living in Denmark: Groceries

  1. I love that you did this comparison!
    It is rather shocking though. I agree as well that the fat tax is badly done and should have been a tax reduction on non´-processed foods.

    • Thanks 🙂

      If you look at the nutritional value I think penalizing fat does not make that much sense as penalizing empty carbs. But as you say it would be a lot better and probably have better psychological effect on shoppers if there was a reduction in non-processed foods.

      I’m suspecting that this “fat tax” was introduced just as much to line the coffers as it was to change behavior.

  2. That’s why many friends and us go shopping in Flensburg. Not only because it’s cheaper but as I have to buy soy products (milk, yogurt etc) and I can only find it at CITI Park and REAL. Basic things are cheaper at Lidl, though.

    • I agree Grace – we make the trip to Citi Park just to buy tofu and other vegetarian friendly products. We have looked to buy in Sonderborg and there is no firm (or extra firm) fresh tofu. You can buy weird floating in a jar tofu or silken tofu in a box but none of these are fresh products.

  3. I like that you refer Bilka as “the local supermarket”. Also Bilka in Sønderborg?? I remember Bilka more as the regional Hypermarket, but I guess those days are soon to be gone : )

    Btw. In Oslo you get 1 liter of milk for around 13,90 NOK = 13,90 DKK, and that only includes a 15% VAT…

    • Heh yeah we are a bit spoiled for choice.

      Within 1km of our flat we have Lidl, Føtex, Bilka, Netto, Aldi Super Brugsen and one more I can’t remember now. Bilka has been our goto place so far, I’m guessing because that is where we can shop for everything at once. We should do a local comparison and see were we get most for our buck.

      Whenever we complain about prices in Denmark it’s always nice to know that you pay more in Norway 😛

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