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Old 20-05-2015, 17:46   #1
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Cost of food and gas-oil in the South Pacific

I started discussing food prices in French Polynesia in a different thread
Where is the Australian Whangarei? (For the cyclone season) in response to an American cruiser who believed that they were much more expensive than they actually are.

In the coming months, before the beginning of the next cyclone season, we will visit many islands and countries between French Polynesia and either PNG, either Australia. We would be happy to know how prices here compare with Samoa, Tonga, Wallis, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG, New Zealand and Australia. Of course, most of the foodstuff below will not be available on most islands (I remember that there was not much beyond taro, cassava, bananas, onions, rice, pasta, white sugar, powder milk and cans of mackerel in Vava'u in August 2008). Our provisioning here will depend on the cost and availability of certain foods down the coconut route.

Also, it would be great if you could update us on the current cost of gasoil for yachts-in-transit in these countries (and quality - we know 3 boats who clogged their filters in the middle of the Pacific with dirty gasoil from Panama). If, say, the cost of tax-free gasoil in New Caledonia were about the same as in French Polynesia, we would not fill our tanks to the brim before setting sails.

Prices are in Francs Pacifique (1 EURO = 119,33 XPF, fixed parity), also used in Wallis-and-Futuna and New Caledonia. I have converted them in USD at today's (20 MAY 2015) exchange rate: 1 USD = 107.55 XPF

Fuel prices in MAY 2015 (same all over French Polynesia):
- Butane cooking gas, 13 kgs: 2980 F (subsidized) $27.71 ($2.13 / kg)
- Oil for two-stroke outboard engines, 1 litre: 820 F $7.62 / litre
- Gasoline : 158 F / litre $1.47 / litre ($5.56 per US Gal)
- Gas-oil (normal price, with taxes): 155 F / litre $1.44 / litre ($5.45 per US Gal)
- Gas-oil (tax free for yachts in transit): 94 F / litre $0.87 / litre ($3.29 per US Gal)

Below are a few prices from "Champion" supermarket in Raiatea, that I wrote down last month and updated yesterday. Prices were about 5-10% cheaper in "Carrefour" in Papeete (the biggest hypermarket / shopping mall between Panama City and Auckland), and about 5-10% more expensive in Nuku Hiva (Marquises). But in the Marquises, you will not buy many fruit, as people will give them to you, bananas, papayas, lime, lemons, grapefruit (year round) and mangoes (seasonal: in July-September then in February-April). BTW If you plan to do arrive in Nuku Hiva during one of the mangoe seasons, don't forget when you clear in to bring bags and a boat hook. Your clearance will take less than 30 minutes, and there is a huge mango tree in front of the Gendarmerie, that produces the best mangoes we have ever tasted.

In French Polynesia, many foods are subsidized (PPN = Produits de Premiere Necessite). They can be easily identified in the shops because of their red price tags. For instance, you will see side by side French "Bonduelle" cans of "Green peas and young carrots" for 324 F (white tag) and the same can of "Green peas" for 195 F (red tag). "Green peas" are on the PPN list (subsidized), but not "Green peas and young carrots" (not subsidized). The difference in price gives you an idea of the kind of subsidy we are talking about. We wish we had heard about these PPN before crossing the Pacific , as we stocked on staple foods in Panama City that turned out to be of poor quality (American cans laden with "high fructose corn syrup" and GMOs, Chinese cans of barely edible "mixed vegetables" that rust quickly, etc) and often more expensive than their good quality, PPN French equivalents found here.

- French Brie cheese: 1095 XPF / kg $10.18 / kg
- French Emmental cheese: 900 XPF / kg $8.37 / kg
- 4 local yogurts (500g): 260 F $2.42
- French "Elle et Vire" fresh butter, 250 g, 237 F $2.20
- Australian or NZ canned salted butter, 1 lb, 454g, 489 F $4,55
- crème fraiche President", 1 litre, 595 F $5.53
- US tofu, firm, 454 g, 349 F $3.24
- Australian processed cheddar cheese, "Beqa", 250 g, 176 F $1.64
- French long life milk, 1 litre, semi-skimmed: 105 F $0.98
- NZ powder whole milk, 800g (makes 6 litres): 789 F $7.34
- New Zealand rumsteak (never frozen), 1390 F / kg $12.92 / kg
- Frozen rib steak from Uruguay, 1195 F / kg $11.11 / kg
- American (= huge, hormone laden) frozen chicken legs, 5 lbs / 2.2 kg: 780 F $7.25
- Argentinian frozen chicken, whole ("normal looking" = probably less hormones and antibiotics allowed than in the US): 250 F / kg $2.32 / kg
- local pork chops: 1390 F / kg $12.92 / kg
- yellow fin tuna, filet, 1695 F / $13.02 / kg (between 1000 / $9.30 and 2000 / $18.60 F / kg depending on the season/ catch; if bought directly from the fishermen, about 500 F / $4.65 / kg)
- 12 local large eggs: 420 F $3.90
- New Zealand Braeburn apples: 328 XPF / kg $3.05 / kg
- local pineapple : 260 F / kg $2.42 / kg
- local grapefruit: 100 F / kg $0.93 / kg
- Australian oranges: 360 F / kg $3.35 / kg
- local sweet potatoes: 210F / kg $1.95 / kg
- New Zealand carrots, 225 F / kg $2.42 / kg
- US potatoes, 150 F / kg $1.39 / kg
- Onions, 125 F / kg $1.16 / kg
- Local green cabbage, 374 F / kg $3.48 / kg
- imported red cabbage, 430 F / kg $4.00 / kg
- local cucumbers, 220 F / kg $2.05 / kg
- imported tomatoes, 690 F / kg $6.42 / kg (we haven't bought tomatoes since the Marquises, where they were nearly half that price, locally grown)
- local lettuce, bag of about 4 pieces (800g?), 337 F $3.13

- Carrefour Bolognaise pasta sauce, 800g glass jar: 365 F $3.39
- "Barilla" spaghetti, 1 kg, 245 F $2.28
- Whole wheat Carrefour couscous, 500g, 205 F $1.91
- Carrefour instant mashed potatoes, 500g (4 x 125g bags) 245 F $2.28
- 1 kg Australian or Thai long grain rice (better quality than the quality "95%" rice in Panama): 100 F $0.93
- 1 kg Thai jasmine rice: 195 F $1.81
- 1 kg French flour: 90 F $0.84
- 1 kg NZ brown sugar: 175 F $1.63
- baguette (not quite as good as in Paris, but still better than in Wellington; about 250 g): 53 F $0.49
- cheapest Bordeaux red wine: 995 F $9.25
- cheapest 1 litre box of Spanish or Argentinian or Chilean red or white wine: 650 F $6.04
- Hinano local beer 275 F per bottle of 50 cl $2.56
- Heineken beer 200 F per can of 33 cl $1.86
- 200 g La Maison du Cafe or Nescafé instant coffee: 512 XPF $4.76
- 20 Carrefour Darjeeling tea bags, 202 F $1.88
- 20 Carrefour Russian Earl Grey tea bags, 184 F $1.71

Even if you don't remember precisely, it would be great if you could chime in with the approximate price, in the local currency or USD, of some foodstuffs in Samoa, Tonga, Wallis, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG, New Zealand and Australia.
And the price of gas-oil.


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Old 20-05-2015, 21:43   #2
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Re: Cost of food and gas-oil in the South Pacific

Just for those wondering : New Caledonia prices are pretty much equivalent to the prices listed for French Polynesia. When looking at this list, I would say most of it is pretty much the same, including the price of diesel. Bread might be a little costlier, because there are few subsidised items in NC, so you may expect 110 XPF for a baguette and 150 XPF for a very good one (way better than in FP).

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Old 04-06-2015, 18:33   #3
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Re: Cost of food and gas-oil in the South Pacific

We are currently in Papeete and took a number of pictures while in the Carefour. Here is an example of the PPN butter. Many here have little or no refrigeration and rely on these long term storage foods.

I will post more photos later as I am trying to put together some information gleaned while we have been here.
Click image for larger version

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We fly out tonight and will be in Australia for two weeks. I hope to have it posted during this time.

I'd rather be sailing.
Wishing I was Sailing....
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Old 04-06-2015, 19:13   #4
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Re: Cost of food and gas-oil in the South Pacific

Wellington, thank you for posting such a detailed and helpful post with the currency conversions in place and the helpful comments embedded too.

I found this very interesting as I had wondered about the food prices and subsidies and quality.
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