Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Paying Luxury Prices for Imported Goods


Mjx
 Share

Recommended Posts

Recently, I saw Lurpak butter priced at USD 8 in a higher-end, Manhattan supermarket. I blinked, and did the math. In Denmark, Lurpak is the basic supermarket offering, the Danish equivalent of Land O'Lakes in the US; good, but ordinary butter. It retails for about DKK 16/250g (about USD 3/close to 9 oz), of which 20% is Danish sales tax. It's good, and there are differences between European and American butter production processes, but there are European-style (i.e. cultured, higher fat) butters produced in the US that are every bit as good, which don't cost nearly as much.

On the other hand, in Denmark you can pay nearly USD 50 for a Microplane grater.

Many members seem to travel quite a bit: What have you found to be inexplicably marked up, when it is retailed outside its country of origin, and what do you make a point of buying when you travel, for this very reason?

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My biggest mark-up standard item is easily salt. Uguni salt isn't all that bad in Japan, and French sea salt is very reasonable in France. Here, I pay upwards of $15/pound -- easily five times the local going rate.

Dairy products are number 2 -- sometimes I just gotta have me some clotted cream or Delitia butter.

Next up, spices. But spice mark-up has historically been the cause of the creation and loss of vast fortunes. Still, people who care about the provenance of their saffron or peppercorns are going to pay more than people who are OK with supermarket spices.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recently, I saw Lurpak butter priced at USD 8 in a higher-end, Manhattan supermarket.

Presumably it goes for less at a lower-end, non-Manhattan market? It seems to be fairly widely available around here, but I've never paid much attention to it or the price.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My biggest mark-up standard item is easily salt. Uguni salt isn't all that bad in Japan, and French sea salt is very reasonable in France. Here, I pay upwards of $15/pound -- easily five times the local going rate.

Dairy products are number 2 -- sometimes I just gotta have me some clotted cream or Delitia butter.

Next up, spices. But spice mark-up has historically been the cause of the creation and loss of vast fortunes. Still, people who care about the provenance of their saffron or peppercorns are going to pay more than people who are OK with supermarket spices.

I do want saffron from a reliable vendor - some saffron has been blended with dried and dyed calendula petals to extend it, so I buy from trusted vendors.

For the past few years I have purchased from Vanilla, Saffron Imports in San Francisco. I'm sure there are other vendors who provide a quality product but I can depend on their product being of very high quality. I just ordered some for Saffron Bread for Easter.

(I also ordered some of their dried mushrooms and a can of Cuitlacoche - just because...)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recently, I saw Lurpak butter priced at USD 8 in a higher-end, Manhattan supermarket.

Presumably it goes for less at a lower-end, non-Manhattan market? It seems to be fairly widely available around here, but I've never paid much attention to it or the price.

In the US, I'm very rarely outside of NYC, so I have no idea. If you do happen to notice the price of Lurpak in your area (please don't go out of your way for this!), would you mind letting me know? It's idle curiosity, I have to admit, but I find this sort of kind of intriguing.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My local middle eastern store carries Lurpak butter at a price comparable to Challenge, which they also carry. 3.78 a pound for the Challenge.

Trader Joe's used to carry Lurpak. I usually make my own butter but if I don't feel like it I buy the Kerrygold at TJ's as it is cheaper there than in other markets.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Cape Town the price of Kerrygold, marketed as Irish butter don't know if that's the case, 250g R50 = about 7 USD, same for Lurpak 250g, interestingly the unsalted butter was R5 more expensive. I believe it is brand recognition and maybe there is a target market for these products; yuppies or just people who see a brand that they know is good and they go for it?

I don't know if you get it in America but a brand of müsli called Alpen, it's Austrian or Swiss or German, but in Finland you pay about 2euro for a 500g box, in Cape Town which has quite a considerable population of Germans it cost almost four times at much being somewhere around R70. But there is a distinct difference, you're everyday müsli in a see-through plastic bag just tastes like dirt, but Alpen... It's so good!

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's funny, but I always find myself bringing back cans of tuna and anchovies. And from the duty-free shop, Campari and last time, Suze.

I'm with you on the Campari. I don't even want to look at how little is in the bottle I have. (Though I have some Cynar as well, which I also enjoy with soda.)

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the past few years I have purchased from Vanilla, Saffron Imports in San Francisco.

I've bought vanilla beans from them. Prices are way lower than just about any other source, and the quality is good.

An ordinary supermarket is just about the last place you want to buy spices--the markup is high and the quality is low. If there's no good spice shop in your area, you're better off with mail order.

On the other end of the scale, Chinese and Indian markets often have very inexpensive imported goods--though sometimes the good prices mean buying stuff in bulk.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the US, I'm very rarely outside of NYC, so I have no idea. If you do happen to notice the price of Lurpak in your area (please don't go out of your way for this!), would you mind letting me know? It's idle curiosity, I have to admit, but I find this sort of kind of intriguing

In suburban Chicago, I'm pretty sure Lurpak goes for $4-5 for the size you're talking about. Most mainstream imported butters (Kerrygold, President) are in the same range.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The list is long, distinguished and dynamic. Someone called HP sauce; that's the same here. Oatmeal, though I've dropped its name elsewhere, has in the last couple of years, in fact, come into range if you have Costco access and can use 5kg before it goes off. I used to lust after Heinz salad cream, but after many years when I finally tried it again, either its formula or my taste had changed and I found it revoltingly chemical.

Sausage skins from the UK. Bovril is not sold in Japan - probably the lingering 1950's-issued ban on British beef. In Thailand in December it was THB300 (about 12 bucks) for a 125g jar, and I still bought three. After swearing so loudly in the aisles that fellow shoppers looked up and a retired GP came over to share the pain.

Link sausages. Good salt-shaker salt. Microplane graters ? Yes, many items of foreign-style kitchen equipment & cookware.

I've probably a longer list of imported / foreign foods that are priced ridiculously on the retail market but that can be had sensibly if you search out suppliers (e.g. flours, spices).

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh yes, and... Lurpak (the Danish Dairy Board's brand) positioned itself as a premium product in the UK over

. Enough rich Brits in Manhattan for it to be worthwhile ?

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot of food times that have pretty hefty tariffs imposed to import them, in either direction, which explains a lot of the high prices.

I wondered about that, but clearly the prices reported by andiesenji and rickster indicate that tariffs are not as significant a factor as what the market will bear (or at least put up with) :wink:

Oh yes, and... Lurpak (the Danish Dairy Board's brand) positioned itself as a premium product in the UK over

. Enough rich Brits in Manhattan for it to be worthwhile ?

I guess people are just remarkably trusting when it comes to marketing, regardless of nationality. That, and the fact that Scandinavian goods have a certain cachet (frankly, mostly off the mark when it comes to anything food-related, but you do have to admire a country that produces bread chocolate).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Northern Va, Lurpak (Smor, Kerrygold, President, etc) is also around $3.99 sometimes on sale $2.99 Kerrygold was just on sale for 2 for $5.

I'm always floored when I hear how expensive KitchenAid Mixers are outside the US and that people are apparently willing to pay.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen San Marzano tomatoes around here for $7 a can. Way over twice as much as good quakity domestic canned. I read there was a 100% tariff on Italian tomatoes, but that some importers got around it partially by packing tomatoes in puree, so it becomes a sauce and not a vegetable and lowers the tariff. The puree packed ones are still usually over $5 a can, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen San Marzano tomatoes around here for $7 a can.

Those are usually $4-5 a can here for DOP San Marzano, less if non-DOP. Non-SM Italian tomatoes are usually around $2-3 a can.

I was just in the local supermarket that I'd previously seen carrying Mexican Coke, and when I looked to check the local price, it was gone!

I have a soft spot for certain British candies (Smarties!) but they're $1.50 or more here.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Side question: What's so special about Mexican Coke?

(Besides, I thought the Bolivian stuff was considered the best by the spoon-and-razor set? ba-dum-DUM.)

Seriously though, why Coca-Cola from Mexico? Real sugar? Better extracts?

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Side question: What's so special about Mexican Coke?

(Besides, I thought the Bolivian stuff was considered the best by the spoon-and-razor set? ba-dum-DUM.)

Seriously though, why Coca-Cola from Mexico? Real sugar? Better extracts?

This

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...