I compared grocery prices of 7 items in America and Iceland, and I was shocked by the high cost of US staples abroad

  • On a recent trip to Iceland, I visited three grocery stores to compare prices with items in the US.

  • While produce in Iceland was cheaper, most basics like eggs and milk were more expensive.

  • Costco rotisserie chickens in Iceland cost twice as much as they do in the US.

On a trip to Iceland in June, I visited three supermarkets to see how prices compare to American grocery stores.

I shopped at two Icelandic chains, Hagkaup and Krónan, as well as Iceland's one and only Costco location, and recorded the costs of seven US grocery staples like eggs, milk, and pasta. Then, I compared the prices to those listed at my local Target and Costco stores in New York City.

Overall, I found that prices in Iceland were much higher than the US — for some US favorites like Costco rotisserie chickens, as much as double.

Take a look at how some grocery prices in Iceland compare to the US.

On my trip to Iceland, I went grocery shopping at Hagkaup, a one-stop shop known as the "Walmart of Iceland."

The entrance to Hagkaup.
Hagkaup in Iceland.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Hagkaup (pronounced HOW-kup) is an Icelandic retailer with seven locations across the country.

Travel bloggers, Iceland travel guides, and sites like Globe City Guide have compared Hagkaup to Walmart for its wide-ranging selection of food, housewares, clothes, cosmetics, crafts, toys, and other items.

At Hagkaup, a family-size box of Cheerios cost 999 ISK, or about $7.20.

Cereal at Hagkaup.
Cereal at Hagkaup.Talia Lakritz/Insider

The store also sold other American cereal brands like Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K, and Cocoa Puffs.

At my local Target in New York City, a family-size box of Cheerios costs $5.89.

Cheerios at Target in the US.
Cheerios for sale at Target in the US.Talia Lakritz/Insider

The cost is likely higher in Iceland since it's an imported American brand.

One liter, or about a quart, of semi-skimmed milk in Iceland cost 219 ISK, or about $1.58.

Milk at Hagkaup.
Milk at Hagkaup.Talia Lakritz/Insider

I was surprised to find that milk wasn't sold in amounts larger than one liter at Hagkaup.

At Target, a half gallon of skim milk costs $2.89 — a better price for twice the amount.

Milk for sale at Target.
Milk for sale at Target.Talia Lakritz/Insider

A similar amount of milk would have cost about $3.16 with Iceland's prices.

At Hagkaup, 500 grams, or a little over one pound, of spaghetti was priced at 559 ISK, or about $4.09.

Spaghetti at Hagkaup in Iceland
Spaghetti at Hagkaup.Talia Lakritz/Insider

The spaghetti I photographed was organic whole-wheat pasta, which is usually slightly more expensive than regular spaghetti.

One kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of regular spaghetti at Hagkaup cost 1,178 ISK, or about $8.53. At this price, one pound of spaghetti would cost about $3.87.

One pound of spaghetti is only $1.99 at Target.

Spaghetti at Target.
Spaghetti at Target.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Both whole-wheat and regular pasta were nearly twice as expensive in Iceland.

I also visited Iceland's only Costco location to compare prices with US stores.

Costco in Iceland.
Costco in Iceland.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Iceland's first and only Costco store opened in 2017 in Garðabær, about 6 miles south of Reykjavík.

At the Icelandic Costco, a rotisserie chicken was priced at 1,499 ISK, or about $10.86.

Rotisserie chicken at Costco in Iceland.
Rotisserie chicken at Costco in Iceland.Talia Lakritz/Insider

The Kirkland Signature branding was the same as the US.

Costco rotisserie chickens are much cheaper in the US at $4.99.

Costco is known for its $5 rotisserie chicken.
Rotisserie chickens at Costco.Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The rotisserie chickens are often scooped up by waiting customers as soon as they hit the store shelves.

In Iceland, a 24-pack of large white eggs sold for 1,399 ISK, or about $10.13.

Eggs at Costco in Iceland.
Eggs at Costco in Iceland.Talia Lakritz/Insider

The packaging advertised that the eggs came from free-range chickens.

At American Costco stores, the same amount of eggs costs $5.99.

Cage-free eggs at Costco in the US.
Cage-free eggs at Costco in the US.Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Kirkland Signature eggs come from cage-free chickens, meaning they can roam inside their barns but often don't have outdoor access, while free-range chickens can go outside.

Finally, I went to the Icelandic grocery chain Krónan.

A Krónan grocery store in Iceland.
A Krónan store in Iceland.Talia Lakritz/Insider

There are 26 Krónan locations across Iceland, according to the retailer's official website.

At Krónan, a can of black beans costs 195 ISK, or about $1.41.

Canned food at Krónan.
Canned food at Krónan.Talia Lakritz/Insider

A can of kidney beans cost 190 ISK, or about $1.37, while canned chickpeas cost 260 ISK, or about $1.88.

In the US, Target-brand black beans are priced at 85 cents each.

Black beans at Target.
Black beans at Target.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Both the regular and low-sodium beans cost the same amount.

Krónan had a promotion selling five pieces of fruit for 229 ISK, or $1.59.

Fruit for sale at Krónan in Iceland.
Fruit for sale at Krónan in Iceland.Talia Lakritz/Insider

A mix of apples, pears, and kiwi were included in the sale.

Produce at Target was more expensive, with individual pieces of fruit ranging from 79 cents to 99 cents each.

Fruit for sale at Target.
Fruit for sale at Target.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Produce was the only item that I found to be cheaper in Iceland, though that may have been because of the promotion offered by Krónan.

While I'd heard that Iceland is an expensive place to travel, I was still surprised by how much higher the grocery prices were in the stores I visited.

An orange basket in Hagkaup.
A shopping basket at Hagkaup.Talia Lakritz/Insider

Living in New York City, I thought I was used to high supermarket prices, but I was still shocked by how the cost of food added up during my trip.

And it's not just food that makes Iceland expensive. The cost of living is 15.8% higher than the US, according to Numbeo, a website that provides crowdsourced summaries of the cost of living in major cities across the world.

Prices for food and other goods are often steeper in Iceland since the country relies heavily on highly-taxed imports, Iceland Review magazine reported.

I found that it was worth booking hotels that included breakfast both for the convenience and in order to save some cash.

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