Supermarket Savvy in Turkey
You’ve settled into your dream residence on the Aegean or Mediterranean. Western sunsets are stunning all year around, and the Doedecanese Greek Islands are droplets in the distance floating on an azure blue sea.
Meanwhile, you’ll need to pick up some groceries at some point. Here’s the lowdown on on what to buy from where.
BIM is the bottom rung of supermarkets, but stock unusual goodies not available at higher end venues. They have a variety of private label dairy products and low prices on fresh items, albeit limited. Alcohol is not sold at BIM.
MIGROS is the upper end supermarket for regular shopping, and normally has a very reliable butcher section. MIGROS have also bought the TANSAS chain of supermarkets. The number of ”M”s on a Migros display will inform you of how extensive it is. For example, a 3M Migros is a medium-large size retailer, whereas a 5M is practically a hyper-market. Migros Jets are small, convenience stores, and the club card offers specials and discounts. There is a well functioning home delivery service available. (Alcohol is not delivered.)
SOK is a subsidiary of well-known Migros. You can expect the same quality as Migros but with fewer varieties of goods and brand choices. The checkout clerks are definitely a level below the parent company of Migros. Alcohol is not sold.
CARRE FOUR have made a very expensive investment in Turkey, and done a good job. With the larger Carre Fours, you can find exotic items such as coconut milk and satay sauce, fresh ginger and lemon grass. Small household appliances can also be found. The smaller Carre Four Minis have the basics. Carre Four extended its operation into hyper-markets a couple of years ago but without much success. Ask for a club card for additional discounts and specials.
METRO is a Swiss based bulk purchase hypermarket which many locals use for small businesses. Great for pet food, cleaning supplies, and anything required in large quantities, including office supplies, electronic equipment and white goods. The fresh fish market within Metro is excellent, and includes live lobsters. The vacuum packed aged beef is of very high quality. Membership is required and granted with a tax number, but a day pass is issued upon request at the entrance.
KIPA was opened as a joint venture by British superstore TESCO, but has since been sold to the parent company of MIGROS. There aren’t any products unique to KIPA, but they do offer good discounts daily on high selling items.
MACRO is the premium gourmet market chain in Turkey where expats can find delicacies including bacon, caviar, premium chocolates, exotic fruits, and many imported cheeses and wines. Prices will usually be higher for products than one would pay in the country of origin, due to the hefty import and luxury taxes. Build a good relationship with the manager for specialty products – if they don’t carry it, they’ll try to source it.
Gourmet Garage is part deli, part boutique specialty shop with premium products (and prices.) With 5 locations in Istanbul, there is also one in Gocek open during the summer months.
Don’t overlook your local ”bakkal” – aka corner shop. These little independent markets have been squeezed by the big guys, but a good bakkal is one of your best friend in Turkey. Not only will they deliver bread, milk and basics to your door, they’ll often keep a tab. Stay friendly with your bakkal!