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where should you do your foodshopping?

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legal warning: The information here should not be understood legally as financial advice. If you believe anything on this site is in error, please contact me. I am always open to corrections, new ideas, and new opinions...

The most important trick to saving money when you go shopping is choosing where to shop.  In this post I intend to explain the marketing behind Israeli supermarkets and how you can save by beating them at their own game

Why is there a Shufersal Sheli, Shufersal Big, and and Shufersal Deal? Aren’t they all the same company?  This is a classic case of market segmentation.  Segmentation is dividing people into groups, or noticing their natural groupings, and responding with a marketing strategy designed to meet their needs, or more often, milk each one for all it’s worth.

There are generally 5 types of supermarkets in Israel:

#1 – The poor person’s supermarket (Mega Bool, Shufersal Deal) – This supermarket is aimed at low income consumers as is designed to take complete advantage of them.  A lot of marketing research has shown that while low income consumers struggle to save on the everyday items, when they finally decide to splurge, they do so irresponsibly.  Most items in a poor person’s supermarket are available in a generic brand (Mega or Shufersal brand), but the items that are not are overpriced.  Wine, baked items, and meat are a huge ripoff in these places.  I usually only use this kind of supermarket for the generic brand items, which usually always fit my magic numbers and save me a lot of money.

#2 – The Charedi supermarket –  These supermarkets are always kind of funny.  You can find seforim, tzitzit, a suit, and do all your food shopping under one roof.  There is always a bargain on “Jewish” essentials (wine, chulent meat, etc) but most other items are generally overpriced.  These stores know that you think about Shabbas when you shop and are likely to rip you off on cereal, tuna and dairy products.  For that the best place is …

#3 – The “shuk” supermarket – These supermarkets do not exist in large chains; rather they are independent supermarkets (or part of a small chain) and situated near a shuk (Where I live in Petah Tikvah, Hiper Dudu is a good example.)  These supermarkets try to compete with the shuk next door by offering a bit more convenience.  Their fruit and vegetable prices are a bit more than the shuk itself, but meat, fish, and dairy products are usually a great buy.  These stores usually do not carry any generic brands, so I do not use them to buy my canned goods (unless I want a name brand.)  Cereal is also usually cheapest in these kinds of places.  Be warned though, these places are crowded, pushy, and generally not so easy to navigate.  It is the classic tradeoff of convenience for price.  If you are willing to pay a bit more for convenience try…

#4 – The middle class supermarket (Mega, Shufersal Big) – These supermarkets are for families who can get along with some kind of deal on something each week.  The customers are somewhat brand aware, but will also go generic.  These stores sometimes have good deals on non-generic items, but are generally a bit above the prices I want to pay (keep in mind, it is still much cheaper than the non-generic items in the poor person’s supermarket).  When I have a bunch of kids around me one day, I may want to shop here and pay the extra 50 shekels to have an easier, more comfortable evening shopping with my family.

#5 – The rich person’s supermarket (Mega BaIr, Shufersal Sheli) – This supermarket is aimed at people who are picky about brands, need connivance and aesthetics, and don’t check prices.  These supermarkets are usually located very conveniently (in a mall, in a nice residential area), and charge extra for it.  I usually only shop in these stores when I have no other option.

Combining two of the above options will help you save regularly when shopping.  I personally shop for generic items at the poor person’s supermarket and get everything else at the shuk supermarket.  Depending on your needs, you may choose another combination…


14 Comments

  1. You forgot to mention the mincha minyan in the charedi supermarkets.

  2. Tamiri says:

    Also, I would like your thoughts on the smaller supermarkets such as Yad Yitzchak, Chatzi Chinam, Haviv etc.

    • jonnydegani says:

      I have only been to Yad Yitzchak out of the ones you mentioned. It seemed to me like it is a hybrid between a shuk supermarket and a middle class supermarket (a very good balance between saving and convenience).

  3. shlomit says:

    check out chatzi chinam. it is not like anything else you have seen in this country.

  4. […] This post was Twitted by mominisrael […]

  5. mirileh says:

    I received a different impression about The Charedi supermarket –

    The last time I was at a supermarket in Bney Brak, I noticed that it was not only as cheap as what you seem to call a “poor person’s supermarket”, but also had large economic sized products (jello, instant pudding) I hadn’t encountered anywhere else.

    (though this was quite a while ago and they were very picky about my attire)

  6. I’m in yeshiva in Ramot, Yerushalyim, and a very convenient supermarket is the Yeish on Shderot Golda Meir (they have other locations throughout the city as well). Which category does it fit into? According to my friends, cereal is a ripoff, but I find other products to be reasonably priced.

    • jonnydegani says:

      Yesh is supposed to be the Charedi supermarket of Shufersal. But instead of hitting a specific segment, like a brand name supermarker usually does, Yesh is all over the place. There is a Yesh by me in Tzomet Sirkin that is overpriced (like a middle class supermarket) and one in Be’erot Yitzchak that is more like a shuk/Charedi supermarket.
      Like all brands, some stuff is cheap and some stuff is expenseive – they bait you with one thing and make money on another. The important thing is to find out which is which and only buy the cheap one there.

  7. Rob Cox says:

    Hi. I am in the US right now. I’d like to find some current budget level prices for foods in Israel. I am a vegan and eat mostly grains, beans and lentils, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. I have tried doing web searches for a source of 2009 info and have been unable to come up with anything. I am coming to Israel within a month and plan on backpacking all over the country. Is there any way you could let me know some of the current pricing for such foods? Thank you!

    • jonnydegani says:

      if you go to the right supermarkets, beans and lentils are probably two thirds of the price they are in the states. Vegetables are about half or a third of the price that they are in the states and fruit is only a bit less that the price in the states.

  8. Devorie says:

    Interesting post. I disagree with your analysis of Shufersal Deal, though. I’ve done extensive research, both in Jerusalem and in the Ramlod area, and I’ve found that Shufersal Deal has the best prices. I primarily buy dairy, chicken, and produce (although I prefer the shuk for fruits/vegetables), and Shufersal Deal’s prices cannot be beat. There’s a lot of competition in the two areas I mentioned, though, so that may affect the prices.

    FYI, the other supermarkets I’ve checked over the years – Mega, Mega Ba’ir, MegaBool, Shufersal Sheli, Shufersal Big, Hetzi Hinam, Mahsanei Kimat Hinam, Rami Levi, Karlberg, Super Bareket (also great for chicken/meat), AM:PM, and local supermarkets/grocery stores.

    As I mentioned, I primarily buy fresh foods, and this has determined my supermarket of choice. I also don’t mind the shufersal brand for dry foods / canned goods, which generally undercuts the market. I don’t know how the supermarket compares for people who buy a lot of prepared foods.

  9. […] Unfortunately, this does not help very much with food shopping.  In my opinion, when foodshopping, it’s more about where you shop, not how you shop (see this previous post about where to go foodshopping). […]

  10. Alice says:

    Buy grains, rice, lentils and nuts from a loose bin in a health food store. They are usually half the price.

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