I went to the market this morning, for the third time since I have arrived in Congo. The more I buy stuffs over there, the more I realize how overpriced stuffs are in “expat shops”. I had decided to wait a bit before talking about money topics, but I’ve been living here for four months now and I think I have a decent overview of the price of Food. Here you go.
First, since I am lazy to convert each price in this article to their equivalent in Euros/US Dollars/Canadian Dollars/Yens/Whatever here is a little table giving you an idea of the rate between the “Francs CFA” (XAF – the Congolese Money), the Euros and the US Dollars (EUR 1 = USD 1.29).
There are many little shops in the town, but there are three main possibilities if you want to buy some food for your lunch :
- Casino, which is a French supermarket brand ;
- Park’n Shop, which is a bit similar to Casino but with a lower quality and higher prices (seriously, everyone tells you that Park’n Shop is cheaper but that’s definitely wrong) ;
- The local market, where prices are much cheaper but where all the aliments are on wooden tables or even put on a cloth on the ground.
One may think : ” well let’s go the French supermarket !”
Good and bad idea. Good, because the quality is supposedly okay (I’m saying supposedly because it’s not always true). Bad, because everything is overpriced at a point you can’t imagine. People are buying Grapes at 10€ per kilogram (~$13) !! The worse quality products in the shop exceed the price of similar average-quality products in France. It’s pure non-sense, really. Of course, the petroleum industry brings a lot of money, but do I really have to buy things at a price that does not correspond to what I’m buying ? Tomatoes at 5€ per kilo ? Or Nutella at 10€ for one jar ? Prices here do not mean anything ; the only “cheap” thing in my opinion is that you can buy a middle-sized roasted chicken for 3000 XAF (check the table above I said!).
After some time eating pasta and low-quality beef steaks, you end up going to the market. What I am usually planning to do is to buy vegetables at the market, and meat (well, steaks, because the rest is expensive) at the Casino. Indeed, seeing meat pieces on tables without any refrigerating system is rather revolting (you don’t believe me ? come check the smell around the market – that’s a fact, not a real negative feeling of course), but this time I thought I’d give it a try.
And I bought some (supposedly rather fresh) fishes…
Actually I had asked for two of them, but the price I had been told was for two “portions”. Anyways. But do you know how much I paid for these fishes ?
Okay the price at the Casino must be around 7000 XAF per kilogram for these fishes. Obviously I’ve got more than 1 kg of fish here. And I paid 400 XAF for these 9 fishes. I swear this is true. I haven’t tasted them so maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you “Bah, the fish story shall end here”, but they looked fresh especially since there was no flies around (there are PLENTY of flies in the market). By the way,
Along with that, I bought some Onions for 250 XAF, a Papaya and 13 bananas for 2000 XAF (at the Casino it would have been at least 10000 XAF I assume) and a of handful of strong red-to-green hot pepper for 50 XAF.
Total price : 2700 XAF.
On the way back, I stopped at the Casino because I still had to grab a few stuffs that I prefer buying there. I am not going to insist on the price differences, because they are obvious. Just check the prices on the picture.
What do you think ? Just leave a comment on this post to share your point of view…