Prices in countries along the milk run differ significantly. For provisioning at reasonable costs, price structures of upcoming destinations may be considered early. Durable products, toiletries or with a freezer on board advance stocks reduce overall costs.
Items such as flour, milk and rice we found in all regions at reasonable costs (except Vanuatu). Prices of fresh produce e.g. oranges vary greatly from country to country. Generally, most products outside Europe are more expensive.
Canary Islands (CI) have been great for provisioning. In the hypermarkets almost everything can be found, even organic products. The price range is similar to the European mainland.
Although people are poor in Cape Verde (CV), groceries are more costly compared to the Canary Islands, selection of products is limited.
Groceries in the Windward Islands (WW) of the Caribbean are rather expensive as compared to Europe. In our opinion Martinique is the best option for provisioning as the selection of mainly French products is great with at the same time relatively reasonable prices. We found that groceries on Martinique and Grenada are least costly from the Windward Islands. On the British influenced islands e.g. St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the selection of products is decreased and prices are higher.
On the ABC Islands we found a very good selection of Dutch products. Prices were roughly comparable to Martinique.
In Colombia (Co) prices of almost all groceries are much more reasonable compared to the Caribbean islands. Especially fresh produce is cheap, if purchased at the farmers market. Exceptions are cheese and dairy products, which are rather expensive. Unfortunately, we missed to stock up in Colombia.
On the islands of San Blas, there are only a very few shops to stock up. Otherwise, supplies in Panama (Pa) are good. Again, fruits and vegetables are cheap if purchased on farmers markets. In general, food prices are higher than in Colombia. As we missed to stock up in Columbia we created stocks here for the upcoming crossing of the pacific ocean and the subsequent expensive price regions in the Pacific. In hindsight, we found that many but not all products are cheaper in Panama than in French Polynesia (e.g. canned tomatoes, see below). It was difficult for us to create larger stocks of rice and pasta, as many containers are infested with invisible eggs of weevils already when purchased. After incubating several weeks on board bugs hatched and products were discarded.
Prices in French Polynesia are generally expensive, with the Tuamotus (Tua) followed by the Marquesas (Mar) being the most expensive area. In both regions, the selection of fresh produce is limited. In the Tuamotus there are only few opportunities to stock up. In Tahiti (Tah) you can find a variety of French, Australian and New Zealand products, most of them rather costly. Prices of staple foods such as milk, flour and bread are state regulated and low throughout French Polynesia.
A look in a grocery store will tell everybody that American Samoa belongs to the US. A weekly supply ship brings a variety of American products to the island - even peaches directly from California. In Pago Pago there are a lot of sparsely sorted little shops around, but in Tafuna there is a warehouse style supermarket Cost-U-Less offering a wide variety of larges packaging products. Prices are not cheap, but a bit less costly as compared to French Polynesia.
Similar applies for Samoa (Sam), where there prices of most product equivalents are roughly the same. Mostly New Zealand Products can be found in the stores. The only significant difference in prices we noted have been the fresh tomatoes which costed 3-4 fold more Samoa compared to American Samoa.
Groceries in Tonga (Ton) are more reasonable prices as compared to French Polynesia and roughly comparable to Samoa. Unfortunately, the selection of products is limited in the Vava-U group and almost non existent in the Nuia group. There are a number of China stores in Neiafu, the main town of Vava-U. Some of them sell few products from the US or New Zealand. Each shop offers something slightly different, thus one have to see all of them to make sure nothing is missed. The shops do run out of stocks e.g. eggs were only available at the market in the early morning or after the supply ship arrived. The farmers market in Neiafu offers a variety of local fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. Diary products are relatively expensive.
Provisioning in Vanuatu (Van) is difficult. In the outer islands, there is only very rudimentary supply if at all. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be traded with the locals for staple foods such as flour, rice, oil and sugar, which the locals prefer over money, since the next supply is hours away. The supply in Port Vila is good with a large farmers market where farmers offer regional products at reasonable prices. There are also large supermarkets with products from France, New Zealand and Australia, but prices are high.
Representative prices of a small selection of products are listed below in Euros. Prices are from 2017/2018 and represent costs of cheaper products if several items were available. If feasible we shopped in large supermarkets as prices were lower compared to small shops. We mainly bought regional products rather than the well-known branded products. Fruits and vegetables we purchased from farmer markets, wherever possible.
Cells with "-" represent product is not available, in case of unknown prices cells are empty.
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