Food quality is a concern many expats have when coming to China – a concern heightened by international headlines of tainted food scandals. While it is wise to be aware of such issues, you can take comfort in the knowledge that Shanghai has very good supermarkets which cater to the needs of expats and carry a wide range of imported products from Europe, Australia, the US and elsewhere. It is true that you may not be able to find the specific brand of yoghurt or cheese that you are used to; however a suitable substitute can almost always be found.
As is the case with all our listings, they are not exhaustive but rather selective and designed to provide you with a range of options.
Most expats’ first choice for imported food is City Shop, which has expanded its operations in Shanghai over the past few years and now has locations serving all areas popular with expats.
A big selling point with foreigners is not only that the experience of shopping at City Shop could be described as tranquil when compared to Carrefour, but it also grows its own organic vegetables at City Farm. In addition, 80 percent of City Shop’s products are imported, they have good bakeries and decent delis, the staff are friendly and speak enough English to help, they have free delivery for orders over RMB200 and as a bonus some locations have surprisingly good cafés, sometimes even bookstores with comfortable sitting areas. It’s a considerably more enjoyable shopping experience than in most places in Shanghai, especially since the stores aren’t too large and staff will leave you alone unless you ask for assistance.
However, for some products – particularly those with a high volume (breakfast cereal) or short expiry date (sour cream) – prices are high. And in a few cases eye-wateringly high. It is also true that products you come to expect may go out of stock, sometimes for months. In these cases, you will find yourself going on a pilgrimage to other locations or other supermarkets to see if you can sate your desire.
Gubei: 3211 Hongmei Lu, by Chengjiaqiao Zhi Lu
Jing’an: Shanghai Centre, B/F, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, by Xikang Lu
French Concession: B1/F, New World Department Store, 939 Huaihai Zhong Lu
Xujiahui: 131 Tianyaoqiao Lu, by Xingeng Lu
Zhongshan Park: 341 Tianshan Lu, by Weining Lu
Huacao: Community Center, 550 Jidi Lu
Pudong (Lujiazui): 1/F, Citigroup Tower, 33 Huayuanshiqiao Lu, by Lujiazui Huan Lu
Pudong (Jinqiao): Yanlord Riverside City, No.30, Lane 1399 Dingxiang Lu
When it comes to big, Western-style supermarkets, the French chain Carrefour has the market cornered in Shanghai with many locations across the city. Stores located in expat areas have a section dedicated to imported foods, though imported food can also be found throughout the store. These locations often have Western Carrefour employees on hand to help foreigners find what they need. All locations have department stores offering a variety of services and shopping options as well as underground parking.
It is wise to note that Carrefour is very popular with locals. In China popularity brings people – lots of them. Carrefour on a weekend can be a nightmare. Think shopping cart gridlock, and a 30-minute wait to check out. To preserve your sanity avoid shopping in the morning on weekends.
Gubei: 268 Shuicheng Nan Lu
Zhongshan Park: B1-2/F, Cloud 9 Mall, 1018 Changning Lu, by Kaixuan Lu
Qingpu: 1829 Huqingping Highway
Pudong: B/F, Thumb Plaza, 185 Fangdian Lu, by Dingxiang Lu
Pudong: 555 Biyun Lu, by Yunshan Lu
Many seasoned Shanghai expats have never heard of Freshmart, as it is tucked away under Jing’an Temple at the bottom of the escalators leading down to the Metro. Regardless of its obscurity, this Japanese supermarket stocks mostly imported products, with an excellent deli and hands-down the best supermarket sushi and sashimi in the city. If you’re in the area, we recommend you check it out as it is a good option to add to your list of pilgrimage destinations when seeking out speciality items or simply a bit more variety.
Jing’an: B/F, 1618 Nanjing Xi Lu, by Huashan Lu
Olé Food Hall
For those living in Xujiahui, Olé Food Hall is a great option for upscale imported food shopping. Featuring an excellent wine selection, bakery, butcher and deli with good sushi, sashimi and selection of on-site prepared dishes, Olé is one of the best expat supermarkets in the area. Located in the basement of the Grand Gateway Mall, it’s easy to access via Metro (Xujiahui stop) or by car as it has ample underground parking.
Xujiahui: B1/F, Grand Gateway Mall, 1 Hongqiao Lu
Located in the basement of the popular Malaysian department store, Parkson has a variety of imported goods on offer – particularly from Japan – with reasonable prices.
French Concession: B1/F, 918 Huaihai Lu, by Shaanxi Lu
Hongqiao: B1/F, 100 Zunyi Lu, by Xianxia Lu
Marks and Spencer
After a much anticipated arrival in Shanghai, Marks and Spencer discovered that importing food into China is not as easy as one might think, leading to a significant reduction in the number of imported foods on of-fer. They do have an excellent wine selection, however, and some select imported goodies.
Jing’an: 863 Nanjing Xi Lu, by Shimen Lu
Pines Market Place
With four locations, Pines Market Place is another good option for imported goods. The wine selection is good, they have their own bakery and they offer delivery.
Former French Concession: 322 Anfu Lu, by Wukang Lu
Hongqiao: Lane 896, 18 Jianhe Lu, by Longxi Lu
Huacao: 427 Jinfeng Lu, by Baole Lu
Pudong: Green Sports & Leisure Center, 633 Biyun Lu, by Lan’an Lu
Though less popular than Carrefour, Metro is preferred by some expats as the prices can be a bit cheaper. Metro locations are a bit out of the way but nonetheless offer some imported goods. Similar to Carrefour, Metro also offers a range of household items, electronics and sporting goods.
Pudong: 383 Baiyang Lu, by Longyang Lu
Minhang: 80 Gudai Lu, by Hongmei Lu
Yasmine’s is a European-style butcher that offers a wide range of cuts from all over the world as well as a number of inhouse products such as patés and sausages.
Former French Concession: 93 Xiangyang Lu, by Changle Lu
Pudong (Jinqiao): 178 Biyun Lu, by Baihua Lu
The most ubiquitous Chinese supermarket in Shanghai, Lianhua is a good alternative for daily necessities if you don’t live close to one of the expat-oriented supermarkets. There will be few brands you recognise and almost no imported foods, but for vegetables, eggs, milk, toiletries and other basics household items, they will suffice.
Hundreds of locations across Shanghai
Online Food Shopping
Over the past few years a number of companies have sprung up offering online shopping and home delivery. This can be an attractive option, providing customers the opportunity to significantly lighten the load when they visit supermarkets.
Fields offers a wide range of organic products including fresh vegetables, eggs, cheese, imported meats and seafood. The prepared foods section is also ample and includes such delights as an 8 kg honey glazed baked ham (RMB1200), homemade chicken pot pie (RMB80) and homemade German apple pie (RMB150).
Get all the ingredients for healthy meals delivered directly to your door. Minimal cooking equipment is needed and most meals take only minutes to prepare. All ingredients are pre-washed and pre-chopped ready to go, and there are two different delivery slots each day.
A great option for those whose lives run at a mile a minute offering meal plans of six, eight and ten meals delivered per week starting at RMB4800 with a focus on nutritious and healthy meals.
Baode Home Delivery
Baode started as a supplier to 5-star hotels and top restaurants and has since started providing their services to individuals. Want Canadian lobster, sliced acorn-fed Iberian ham or Spanish pork baby back ribs to impress your guests? This is the place to find it.
Chain of shops selling Western food that has expanded into online retail. Options include wine and baby supplies, as well as the usual imported cheese, meats and candy. Range isn’t amazing, but great service, with free delivery once your order gets over RMB200.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the city’s most popular expat supermarket has an online store. Though they do not offer anywhere near the range of products they have in the store, their online service is still one of the best. Registration is simple; cash on delivery is standard.
Gusto Fine Foods
Gusto specializes in vegetables, baking supplies, jams, nuts and cakes and while the selection is somewhat limited, it’s worth a look if you are an aspiring chef.