Do as the Swedish Do: Groceries

Beer you get in supermarkets.

One of the first things German people are bound to notice when they get to Sweden is the lacking availability of decent beer. It is called öl here; you put Öl in German engines and what you can buy in Swedish supermarkets does not taste significantly better than that. That is because the state has a monopoly on alcohol in Sweden. Everything with more than a certain percentage of alcohol has to be bought in restaurants or at Systembolaget. That makes alcohol also quite expensive. During my first week here, I bought a small beer for 48 SEK (slightly more then 5€ at the moment) and it tasted like … well, not good.

The next thing is bread. While you can get decent wholemeal bread and white bread, sourdough bread is rather rare. And the bread you get is subject to what appears to be a collective Swedish taste: sweet and spicy. Most kinds of bread have some kind of sugar in it and at least one spice or fruit. That is not necessarily bad but needs some getting used to. Speaking of spices: cinnamon. It is everywhere. Honestly, if you do not like cinnamon do not go to Sweden.

Kanelbulle aka cinnamon pastry

Other things can be had in almost infinitely many variations, for example yoghurt and pastries. While supermarkets do not have those little yoghurt pottles you get in Germany, they have at least a dozen different kinds of yoghurt each by at least three companies, all packed by the litre or more. You can get everything from fruity-sugary over flavored to natural yoghurt in several variations. As for pastries, there appears to be a limited number of traditional kinds — first and foremost the kanelbulle — which are kept warm in abundance. You have to eat them at once, though, because they quickly become dry and hard. Pastry shops have greater assortments, of course, with really tasty stuff. But then, you need some room for variation at fika, right?

Prices feel weird here. I have not checked exact values and might very well succumb to an awareness bias, but this is what I feel. Pastries and fish can be had for reasonable prices, fruit and meat appear to be a bit pricier than in Germany. Generally, the nearer you get to oven-ready meals the higher the difference is. By far the most extreme divergence can be observed for the most mundane of things: water. I bought carbonated mineral water for .19€ per 1.5l in Germany but have yet to find the same amount for less then 5.90SEK here — and that was a special offer!


  1. I really like the confectionery. On the other hand, the usage of dark bread and savory sausage and cheese is completely missing.

  2. You can certainly get all of these things, as you know. In fact, smörgås is quite common.

  3. I totally know the bread problem. If you live near a Lidl/Aldi I suggest you try the baking mixtures – they’re quite tasty :)
    Cinnamon pastry sounds awesome though!

  4. Acutally, I dropped bread out of my diet and have fruit with yoghurt in the evenings. Healthy, tasty, flexible.

    Cinnamon in pastries is fine, but in ketchup?!

  5. A very sensible choice ;)

    Ketchup with cinnamon sounds rather disturbing to me…