Grocery Prices In Hawaii

Posted Jul 12, 2011 at 6:24pm
Figurines of a sarong-clad woman and a muscular Hawaiian surfer

The Don Quijote supermarket chain in Hawaii sells more than just your typical groceries (see above). Hawaii Business magazine found Don Quijote to have the lowest grocery prices overall in a comparison with three other local chains. (Photo credit: coconut wireless)

A common question I see posted on forum threads about moving to Hawaii is: “How much do groceries cost?” This question seems to spring from the common knowledge that Hawaii has higher grocery prices, because most goods are manufactured or grown outside of the islands and need to shipped over. It’s a good question to ask if you’re considering a move to Hawaii, because you’ll need to know how much of your household budget will need to be allocated to buying food and other groceries once you’re living on the islands.

Different people buy different types and amounts of groceries — the monthly grocery bill for a married couple with two growing teenagers will be vastly different from a single woman who eats a vegetarian diet. So rather than try to give you a one-size-fits-all monthly estimate of the cost of groceries here in Hawaii, I’ve gathered links to the weekly ads of several local grocery store chains so you can “go shopping” and see the prices of items you buy on a regular basis.

Foodland

Weekly ad

Times

Weekly ad

Safeway

Weekly ad

Don Quijote

Weekly ad (Click “Contents” tab on the left side of the webpage to view the back side of the ad.)

Bagstuffer Specials

Marukai

Weekly ad (you can also sign up to receive their bi-weekly ad via email)

Membership info

Whole Foods

Weekly ad for Honolulu, Oahu location (Under “What’s on sale?” on the right side of the webpage, click “Download Flier” button.)

Weekly ad for Kahului, Maui location (Under “What’s on sale?” on the right side of the webpage, click “Download Flier” button.)

Walmart

Weekly ad

Longs

Weekly ad

Target

Weekly ad

Which store has the lowest prices?

Last year, Hawaii Business magazine compared the prices of certain groceries at Don Quijote, Foodland, Safeway, and Times. When they added up the prices of those groceries at each store, Don Quijote had the lowest grand total. Some Hawaii residents might argue that warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart have lower prices overall, but Hawaii Business magazine chose not to include those stores because they’re not as comprehensive in their grocery offerings as supermarkets are.

I was curious, though, how Costco would stack up in their price comparison. I was never a huge fan of Costco until I moved here. With grocery prices being so high in general in Hawaii, the savings at warehouse stores like Costco are just too significant to pass up. In fact, everyone I know in Hawaii shops at Costco, Sam’s Club, and/or Walmart on a regular basis.

To show you what I mean, I went to my local Costco and added up the prices of the same grocery items listed in Hawaii Business magazine’s price comparison (see table below). It’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison — Costco carries only a limited number of brands, so I had to make some substitutions, which I’ve noted below. There was only one item I was unable to find at all — the baby food — so to be fair, I used the highest price for that item that was listed in the magazine’s original comparison, which was Don Quijote’s. It should also be noted that the Costco prices listed below were taken from the Hawaii Kai location in Honolulu — I’m sure prices vary somewhat between the different Costco locations throughout Hawaii.

Costco vs. Don Quijote, Foodland, Safeway, and Times

Best price average on Oahu at:
Product Don Quijote Foodland Safeway Times   Costco

Dairy and Produce

Whole milk, 1 gallon jug (cheapest brand) $4.99 $4.72 $3.99 $4.84    $4.99
Carrots, 1 lb., loose 1.07 1.49 1.49 1.29        0.70
Eggs, 12 large, Grade A (cheapest brand) 2.61 2.87 2.66 2.36        1.99
Broccoli crowns, 1 lb. 1.71 2.42 2.92 2.82        2.50

Meats

Ground beef, 20+% fat (small pack, price/lb.) 2.68 2.99 3.19 3.41         3.29 (12% fat)
Chicken thighs, bone in (small pack, price/lb.) 2.06 2.65 2.31 2.02        1.49
SPAM, 12 oz. can 2.52 2.13 2.29 2.49        2.36
Hebrew National hot dogs, 7 pack 4.52 4.78 4.60 6.32        5.75 (Kirkland)

Canned goods

Hunts tomato sauce, 15 oz. can 1.40 1.93 1.58 1.99       0.58 (S&W)
Green Giant canned corn, 15.25 oz. can 1.69 1.99 2.29 1.99       0.71 (Kirkland)
Coral tuna, 5 oz. can 1.02 1.26 1.92 1.32       0.90 (Chicken of Sea)

Liquids

Budweiser beer, 12 pack of cans 13.09 10.99 12.99 11.99      8.76
Coke, 12 pack of cans 6.19 5.59 5.99 5.16      3.65
Lion Gold coffee, 10 oz. bag 5.22 6.08 7.19 5.52      4.37 (Hw’n. Isles)
Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, 10.75 oz. can 1.49 1.43 1.39 1.50       0.64

Local favorites

Calrose white rice, 20 lb. bag, Hinode brand 15.99 10.99 18.99 13.99    11.60 (Homai)
Sapporo Ichiban Saimin, 2.25 oz. 0.60 0.72 1.29 0.79       0.35
Aloha soy sauce, 24 oz. bottle 2.89 3.99 3.99 3.19        1.29
Best Foods mayonnaise, 15 oz. jar 3.99 4.59 5.39 4.39       1.64

Kids and cats

Friskies cat food, 5.5 oz. can 0.66 0.78 0.86 0.73       0.44
Cheerios, 18 oz. box 5.94 6.99 6.51 5.99       2.43
Gerber 2nd Foods baby food, 2 X 3.5 oz. packs 1.59 1.49 1.18 1.49       1.59
Huggies Little Movers diapers,
for children over 27 lbs., 23 in a pack
12.24 13.66 11.99 13.32     5.21

This and that

Heinz Ketchup, 20 oz. 2.37 3.32 3.67 3.49       1.12
Skippy peanut butter, 16.3 oz. 2.50 3.34 4.79 2.49       1.49
Love’s King White bread (16 oz. loaf) 3.86 3.36 3.87 3.49       1.60 (Surf Kids)
Toilet paper, Charmin, 4 rolls
(Scott at Foodland)
5.54 5.19 4.69 4.82       3.07

Totals

$110.43 $111.74 $124.02 $113.22 $74.51

As I expected, Costco’s total grocery bill is the lowest of the four stores. But it’s interesting to see that Costco does not have the lowest prices when it comes to milk and most meats — you’re better off buying those items at a supermarket.

And if you’re a small household and can’t buy everything in bulk — for instance, buying a carton of 18 eggs at Costco makes no sense for me, because I can’t eat them all before the expiration date) — you’ll still want to shop at a supermarket for those items that you need to buy in smaller quantities.

Supermarkets definitely still have their uses in Hawaii, even if they don’t necessarily have the lowest prices.

For more up-to-date, detailed info on moving to Hawaii, check out my e-book: Moving To Hawaii: A Step-By-Step Guide

Posted in Cost Of Living

Comments

  1. Lisa @ Oahu Mom

    Great comparison chart, thanks! We do most of our shopping at Costco and then get fresh produce at a Farmers’ Market every week. Every few weeks we head to a regular grocery store for items Costco doesn’t carry. For large bulk items I sometimes split them with a friend.

    • Michele Meyer

      Good idea on splitting bulk items from Costco with a friend! There are several items I hesitate on buying from there, only because I don’t want the food to go bad before I can use it. That’s a great solution.

  2. Ryan

    I know this post was well over half a year ago but I wanted to say thank you for the hard work you put into it. This is really good information for one of our most basic necessities that we need to think about if considering the big move to Hawaii :)

    • Michele Meyer

      Hey, thanks Ryan! I really appreciate that!

      Aloha,
      Michele

  3. ER

    How did you forget Marukai?!

    • Michele Meyer

      You are right! Marukai definitely deserves to be on this list. Adding it now!

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