American expatriates relocating to Germany are often shocked at the differences between German and American grocery stores. Outlined below are 7 of the most astounding differences an American may notice while grocery shopping in Germany:
- German grocery stores are much, much smaller than those in the United States. One reason for this is because the stores only sell one or two brands of a product. The other reason is because German grocery stores only sell groceries. Americans are used to massive, one-stop-shops like Target and Wal*Mart, where groceries, as well as household products and other items, can be purchased. This is not the case in Germany. While larger stores do exist, they are sparse in number and are still small in comparison to America’s chain stores.
- The frozen food section is limited; Germans eat fresher than Americans and freezing food is not a common practice. Because freezers in German houses are smaller than those in American homes, freezing food can be difficult, meaning more frequent trips to the grocery store or market are necessary.
- Many Germans choose to walk, bike, or take public transportation to supermarkets. Because of this, they are not able to purchase as many products when grocery shopping, so buying in bulk is less common. Most Germans make multiple trips to the supermarket in the same week.
- Most stores require that customers purchase their food in euros. While some stores may accept credit cards, the likelihood is slim.
- Working in German grocery stores isn’t as exhausting as it is in the States. German markets offer less items, meaning shelving and taking inventory isn’t as extensive of a process. Additionally, German cashiers are permitted to sit while ringing out customers, a concept that is unheard of in the U.S., where cashiers are required to stand at registers.
- 24/7 shopping is not common. Americans are used to shopping at all hours of the night and day, and even on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. In Germany, grocery stores are closed on holidays, and even on Sundays.
- Milk isn’t always refrigerated! Ultra-High Pasteurization (UHT) Milk can be found on shelves next to rice, bread, and other room temperature products. The shelf life of milk in Germany is much longer than that in America because Germans heat their milk to 275 degrees Fahrenheit during the pasteurization process. In America, the pasteurization process typically only heats the milk to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This difference allows UHT milk to remain fresh for up to 6 months!
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