Supermarkets in Sweden: A Guide for New Expats

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If you are new to Sweden, figuring out supermarkets can be tricky. There are two main supermarkets in Sweden: ICA and Coop. Both supermarkets have stores all over the country, but they vary quite a bit. For instance, there is usually more fresh produce at ICA whereas Coop often has better prices on meats and seafood.

This post will cover some of the major differences between supermarkets in Sweden so that you know which one to shop at!

supermarkets-in-sweden

Supermarkets in Sweden

Swedish supermarkets are a unique part of Swedish culture. They vary in size and compete with each other for customers by offering different types of goods at different prices. For those unfamiliar, supermarkets in Sweden can be difficult to navigate — so this post will provide you with some tips on how to shop effectively!

Things you need to know when buying groceries in Sweden

If you just recently moved to Sweden, grocery shopping can be a good start to get to know more about Swedish culture! I came from the Philippines, and I noticed the major differences between grocery stores in Manila and Stockholm right away.

Here are the things you need to know when you buy groceries in Sweden:

  1. Everything is in Swedish.
  2. You often need to weigh your own produce. 
  3. There are self-checkout options.
  4. You need to make a deposit to use shopping carts (sometimes).
  5. Some higher-quality meats are locked in a glass cabinet. You need to ask their staff to unlock the cabinet if you want to grab something. 
  6. It’s hard to find specific cuts of meat like pork belly. It’s either you order it online (which is often unavailable) or you go to a butcher shop. 
  7. You need to bring your own plastics or bags. You can buy it but it’s at least 2 SEK.
  8. You can pay in cash. 
  9. You can deposit bottles and cans in some bigger grocery stores in Sweden.
  10. You can send or receive packages in some bigger grocery stores in Sweden.

Related post: Are you curious to know if living in Stockholm is expensive or not? I created a detailed post about the cost of living in Stockholm & how our monthly expenses look like.

Grocery stores in Sweden

  1. City Gross
  2. Coop 
  3. Hemköp
  4. ICA
  5. Lidl
  6. Willys

City Gross

City Gross supermarkets are not widely available compared to Coop and ICA. City Gross is a family-owned supermarket since 1933. They offer fresh Swedish meat that is cut and packed in the stores!

They also have a wide variety of meat products, dairy, and bakery items.

You can shop online at https://www.citygross.se/matvaror

Coop

Supermarkets in Sweden: A Guide for New Expats 2
Photo by Philip Myrtorp on Unsplash

Coop provides many different services to their customers such as home delivery, organic produce, and eco-friendly products. This has helped to distinguish them from other supermarkets in Sweden. The supermarkets also offer discounts for their customers on certain days of the week.

Coop also offers different discounts for customers that are members of their loyalty program or who pay with credit cards provided by them. Customers can also accumulate points if they use the same card every time they shop at one of these supermarkets.

You can shop online at https://www.coop.se/handla/

Hemköp

Hemköp is part of Axfood, one of the Nordic region’s largest listed food retail companies and the industry’s second-largest player in Sweden. Grocery stores such as Willys, Snabbgross, and Dagab are also part of Axfood.

Hemköp, which translates to ’home store’ in English, is a grocery store chain in Sweden. They offer a bigger variety of organic products and prices are usually more expensive. Actually, Hemköp is the most expensive grocery store in Sweden, but you can find everything here!

They also have matbuffe where you can purchase cooked food & its cost depends on the weight.

You can shop online at https://www.hemkop.se/handla if you are in the following locations:

  • Stockholm
  • Uppsala
  • Gothenburg
  • Malmö
  • Helsingborg
  • Kalmar
  • Linköping
  • Örebro

ICA

ICA supermarkets in Sweden are a good place to shop. They have many different options for shopping including bulk items, organic items, and high-end food items. ICA also provides dairy products that are from Swedish dairy farms.

ICA provides lower prices and they also have a loyalty program for customers.

ICA is the leading grocery store in Sweden & you will usually see different stores of ICA:

  • Maxi ICA Stormarknad
  • ICA Kvantum
  • ICA Supermarket
  • ICA Nära

You can shop online at https://handla.ica.se/

Lidl

At Lidl supermarkets, you can always find everything that you need. You will also save money on your grocery shopping. It’s good to check what products are on sale at the supermarkets every week because the prices of goods change every week.

If you are looking for great deals on supermarkets in Sweden, make sure to visit Lidl supermarkets.

You can save a lot when buying groceries in Lidl as it is the cheapest grocery store you can find. They also offer products with their own brand.

Willys

Willys supermarkets offer a wide variety of different grocery products which include but are not limited to dairy, meat, vegetables, fruits, canned goods, frozen food, and confectioneries.

Willys supermarkets also have a variety of deals on their weekly deals which include deals for customers who purchase items at the supermarket.

What I like about grocery shopping in Willys is they usually offer bigger discounts on perishable products.

You can shop online at https://www.willys.se/

International grocery stores in Stockholm

Of course, we are going to miss home & eventually need food to deal with homesickness abroad!

My favorite store to buy Filipino snacks is the Filippinska Asian Market located in Stockholm City.

  1. Asian Market 
  2. AM Store 
  3. Filippinska Asian Market (Filipino Asian Store)
  4. The American Food & Gift Store
  5. Tasty America

To all my fellow Filipinos in Stockholm, you can also order Filipino food at Elle’s Kusina or drop by Rosie Carinderia.

Supermarkets in Sweden also offer membership cards

Don’t forget to check your favorite supermarkets in Sweden if they offer membership cards! You can collect points and use them for travel, entertainment, discounts, or even pay your grocery bill.

Customers who are also members will get different offers and prices.

Swedish translations you need when buying groceries

  • kaffe = coffee
  • dryck = drink
  • vin = wine
  • fisk = fish
  • ägg = egg
  • kyckling = chicken
  • ost = cheese
  • frukt = fruit
  • socker = sugar
  • kött = meat
  • nötkött = beef
  • flaskkött = port
  • tomat = tomato
  • öl = beer
  • peppar = pepper
  • olja = oil 
  • te = tea
  • glass = ice cream

Sweden is mostly cash-free, but you can still pay in cash when buying groceries! Most expats who recently moved to Sweden do not have access to Swedish bank accounts yet & waiting for the Swedish personal number is now taking a few months.

In the meantime, you can still use your current credit/debit cards!

Transfer money abroad

I often send money abroad, especially to the Philippines, so I had to find a hassle-free and cost-effective option for international transactions.

Signup for a Wise account!

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a great bank for sending and receiving money internationally with low fees — much cheaper than using a traditional bank.

With the Wise Borderless account, you can also get your own local bank account details in Europe, UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. 

There are many supermarkets in Sweden to choose from. I hope this post has given you tips on how supermarkets in Sweden differ, what supermarkets are available, and even some comparisons of prices between different supermarkets.

Now it will be a lot easier for new expats who relocated to Sweden to figure out where you can buy groceries at your favorite supermarket chain!

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