A primer on grocery shopping in Switzerland

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland

I have always wanted to document a shopping trip to a Swiss grocery store for you guys.

That's because I thought that the Swiss abroad (and ex-expats) might enjoy delving into this cultural experience. There are few differences between grocery stores in Switzerland and elsewhere, except that they tend to be much smaller in size. An average neighborhood Migros in Switzerland might carry everything you need to prepare a BBQ, including the food, the charcoal, recyclable plates and a portable grill.

Grab your wallet and join us for some grocery shopping in Switzerland!

 

It is very common that shopping carts are kept outside the store, which is why they are chained together and can only be unlocked by depositing a coin:

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland
 

Due to limited floor space inside most stores, bulky items such as packs of toilet paper or club soda (it is no stereotype that the Swiss love carbonated water!) are stacked right outside the entrance.

At our local store, we will let the cashier know during checkout if we want to purchase something from there and then pick it up on the way out.

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland
 

The inventory is really geared towards a practical lifestyle, and it is common for people to shop for fresh food several times a week. When it comes to staples, one can never have enough cookies...

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Cookies
 

Swiss honey comes in many varieties: Try a smooth kind from Ticino or a creamy organic kind!

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Swiss Honey
 
Important: Produce needs to be weighed and labeled by the customer! In the US, this is done by the cashier. But here, if you forget, you are in trouble and risk getting the evil eye from the cashier and other customers as you are holding up your lane...

READ
Great Deals in Switzerland? YES, PLEASE!

Trust me, you don't want that to happen!

 

Conveniently located close to the checkout is what I am going to refer to as "Chocolate Avenue". Needless to say, Switzerland has the highest chocolate consumption in the world.

The Swiss consume 11.6 kg per capita. Having an entire aisle dedicated to this staple of survival is normal, no?

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland
Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland
 

Chocolate comes in all shapes and sizes. Ragusa is popular because of the roasted hazelnuts. I have watched many shoppers swing by the chocolate aisle to pick up a bar on their way out.

Why I was even there to witness this? Go figure...

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Ragusa
 

As many chocolate there is, as many types of yogurt you can get. Even a small chain store will have an extensive selection of Swiss yogurts, many of them being organic, some even being local.

The definition of "local" is much tighter than it is, say, in the US. In our neighborhood store, the milk is probably being sourced from the town's farmers, and the yogurt and cheese is produced in the hills no more than 20 miles away.

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Swiss Dairy
 

Yogurts come in many flavors and consistencies. There are always seasonal kinds as well, such as chestnut in the winter or plum in the summer.

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Swiss Dairy
 

Cheese can be bought pre-packed in chain stores. But smaller local shops still have old-fashioned cheese counters. Either way, there is no such thing as "Swiss cheese" (there are 100's of kinds of "Swiss cheese"...)

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Swiss Cheese
 

Butter tastes like real butter!

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Swiss Butter
 

And to the big surprise of many, the Swiss do not refrigerate eggs...

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Eggs
 

READ
10 Examples of Minimalist Swiss Food Packaging

Aromat is a staple in any Swiss kitchen! Look for it in the spices aisle.

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Aromat
 

Rösti is the Swiss version of hashbrowns. There are many varieties, including one with Swiss Appenzeller cheese, or the Berner Rösti with bacon bits.

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Rösti
 

Rivella is the most popular beverage in Switzerland. It contains milk whey, which makes it taste iffy for many Newly Swissed...

Grocery Shopping Migros Switzerland - Rivella
 
While I am munching on a bar of chocolate, why don't you take a minute and let us know which other errands you would like us to document in the future!

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Dimitri Burkhard

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Newly Swissed GmbH
As the founder, editor and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of the Swiss Travelwriters Club.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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12 replies
  1. Linda Bernhard
    Linda Bernhard says:

    Every time I forget to weight my fruit and veg when I come home for a visit. And every time I get evil looks from the cashier and other customers. I usually just pretend to be foreign..!
    Love your shopping story!

    And..English pound coins work a treat with Mirgos trolleys!

    Reply
  2. Krystal
    Krystal says:

    1. Carbonated water is soo awful!
    2. You got “caught”…so are you not allowed to take pics there?
    When I first moved here I had no idea what those scales were – I bagged up all of these vegetables and it’s a good thing I noticed them before I got to the cashier! I had to lurk around and try to figure out how to work them, haha…funny to look back on now =)

    Reply
  3. Michael Voit
    Michael Voit says:

    Some of my memories…some things have changed over time…
    I seem to remember a time when customers were not allowed to touch the produce. They had mean old ladies to give you what you wanted.
    I also remember paying for bags
    Yogurt came in glass jars and the jars were always recycled
    Milk came in flimsy paper / cardboard containers. Once opened one had to be careful to not squeeze the carton when picking up the container as the milk would sometimes come out.
    The cashiers sit and do not say hello (I hope there are exceptions)

    Reply

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  1. […] valakit érdekel bővebben a téma, ezen a linken angolul olvashat a MIGROS-ról, ami a legerősebb élelmiszer lánc itt Svájcban. A protekcionista […]

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