Shopping for international goods in Shanghai can be difficult if you don’t know where to go. Want Cheerios in the morning?—We know where to find them. Need real bacon for a little recipe you miss from back home?—We know where that is, too!
For a quasi-western store, you can head to shops like the Trust Mart or Century Mart. Both have an imported foods isle, but since the shops are massive, the isles can be hard to find and a bit of a let down once you finally push your way through the crowds to reach them. Trust Mart, owned by Wal-Mart, has a busing system to bring people directly to the door and home again from major residential areas. Century Mart has a bit more selection but may be fewer and further in between.
The Carrefour shopping centers have become the go-to for imported foods and for a much wider selection of Chinese foods. You will often find incredibly fresh fruits and vegetables at a wider selection than the average store. Meats are in ready supply, although still not as ‘western’ as most expats are used to. You’ll find a foreign foods isle that is impressive, yet still a bit lacking for international foods and snacks.
The Lotus Center is renowned for its meat selection, which is unmatched among Chinese stores. Although the Lotus is not easily accessible, many expats travel there weekly just for the chicken breast, and you’ll find a throng of foreigners shopping the meat and imported foods isles. They are often a bit hard to get to, but well worth a visit. For the expat living in Shanghai it is worth visiting the major shopping areas to discover which ones sell exactly what you are looking for.
Finally, City Shop is the last and best place to head for those little treats you simply can’t find at the major outlets. Imported cheeses, snacks and microwave meals are specialities at the City Shop, as are imported candies and wines. The cost is high, which is reflected in the locations of the City Shop stores throughout Shanghai, like the one on the Pudong Bund that services men in suits throughout the day getting their ‘real’ kit-kat fixes.
If you can’t find it in Shanghai, consider taking a short trip to Beijing to pick up the imports you and your family crave at Beijing’s Imported Food Stores!