VIDEO: 12 unique things about shopping in a Spanish supermarket

Mountains of ham, rivers of olive oil and lakes of wine: that is what to expect when you go shopping in a Spanish supermarket.

VIDEO: 12 unique things about shopping in a Spanish supermarket
Within the aisles of a Spanish supermarket you'll come across a jamon jungle. Photo: Screengrab You Tube

But in a world where globalization is increasingly eroding cultural individualism,  what makes supermarket shopping different in Spain than anywhere else in the world?

James Blick and his Spanish wife, Yolanda Martin appear together regularly on their Spain Revealed YouTube channel and have clocked up more than 350,000 hits alone for their video exploring a supermarket in Madrid. 

Readers' tips: Which supermarket in Spain is the best to shop at 

Here's what they found out.

Within the aisles you'll come across a jamon jungle

“It’s like walking through a ham jungle,” explains Blick, a New Zealander who moved to Madrid with his Spanish wife, Yolanda, eight years ago and co-founded the hugely successful Devour Tours.

In the jamon section it’s possible to find every kind of ham product, from the cheapest at  €30 to the premium, all singing and dancing Jamon Belota de Iberica of Cinco Jotas for €569 that comes with a special ham cutting knife in a beautiful presentation box.

Expect to find two or three aisles of a large supermarket dedicated to pork products, explains Blick.

Catch of the day, even far from the coast

Even if you are nowhere near the sea, most decent supermarkets will have a dedicated fish and seafood counter to rival a quayside fish market. 

Offering everything from frozen sea snails and shrink wrapped razor clams to fake baby eels, the employees behind the counter will give advice on what’s good for what, and how to cook it.

Got milk?

An enormous part of every supermarket is dedicated to UHT milk. Whereas as fresh milk will be contained within just  one shelf in the refridgerated section, it is cartons of the diary product that is pre-treated at high temperatures that most Spaniards will buy.

Pigs snout and skinned rabbit.

From packets of skinned rabbits to vacuum packed pigs ears, and a pair of pig snouts, the fresh meat section has as many different cuts as you'd find at a village matanza.

Ready meals?

If you don’t feel like attempting  to cook up a Spanish classic  yourself, then there’s always ready made canned stews.

Traditional favourites include Cocido Madrileño, Callos or fabada.

Spain sells terrible coffee

If you are a coffee connoisseur, then buy Natural over Mezcla and avoid Torrefacto at all costs!

The best thing since sliced bread?

For breakfast, there’s donuts, magdalenas and pan de leche. Sliced bread can be kept for days before it goes mouldy.  And there really is a bestselling brand called Bimbo!

Potato chip flavours are different

 Potato chips – or crisps for those who grew up in the UK –are different in Spain. For starters, there is a big selection of Jamon flavour, even gourmet jamon iberico flavour for those with superior taste buds and a budget to match

Or you could try “ajo and perejil” – garlic and parsley flavour. Spain even has a “huevo frito” – fried egg – flavour.

Tinned seafood is a delicacy

It’s very likely that before you came to Spain, a tin of sardines or a can of tuna were about as far as you ever went in the conserved seafood department. In which case, you have a whole treasure trove of tinned delicacies to discover!

Start with mejillones – mussels – and work your way through razor clams and cockles to octopus tentacles and squid in its own ink.

Olive Oil

Spain makes around half the world’s olive oil and this section of the supermarket can be rather overwhelming

For €3,59 per litre for the cheapest to the very pricey organic boutique extra olive oil at more than €8.60 for half a litre tin.  

You could spend hours here trying to work out which one to  buy.

Brand names can be hilarious… and sometimes racist.

To get your clothes clean, buy Colon. For bread, Bimbo is best and coffee could end up driving you bonkas. Look out for those brand names that simply wouldn’t translate well back home.

Spain sells a popular brand of candy called Conguitos. That translates as “little people from the Congo” or something, and in case you were in any doubt as to what they mean, the characters on the cover are chubby black babies with big red lips.

You can buy wine for €0.90 a litre!

Blick found Elegido – The chosen one – that sells for just €1.96 a litre.

Supermarkets aren’t the best place to buy wine, we would recommend making a trip to the source and visit the bodegas themselves!

But a supermarket does offer a huge selection from the cheapest cartons of plonk at 90 cent a litre to the top of the range 2005 vintage of Vega Sicilia at €259.

Blick recommends spending over €6 to get a pretty decent bottle.

James Blick is the co-founder of Devour Tours and hosts the YouTube channel Spain Revealed. Follow his adventures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and subscribe to his videos.

Member comments

  1. Bimbo isn’t Spanish, it is Mexican. Group Bimbo also makes Sara Lee frozen desserts and New York Bagel Co. bagels.

  2. I remember some years ago, there was a company selling crisps with the name “BUM”. I haven’t seem them around for a while!

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


REVEALED: The most popular food and drink brands in each Spanish region

A new study has revealed Spaniards' favourite food and drink brands and which brands are consumed the most in each region of the country.

REVEALED: The most popular food and drink brands in each Spanish region

A new report from data analysis company Kantar in its Brand Footprint 2023 report discovered that the brand most consumed by Spanish households is Coca-Cola, the world’s best-known soft drink.

The report analysed data from more than 35,000 brands in a total of 53 countries and gave each brand a score of Consumer Reach Points or CRPs. This was calculated by working out the number of homes in the country x the percentage of households that buy the brand more than one time a year x the number of times each household buys that brand. 

READ ALSO: Ten reasons your homemade Spanish tortilla went wrong

In Spain, the company found out that the top 10 most popular brands or those with the highest CRPs were:

  1. Coca-Cola: 130.69 million CRPs 
  2. El Pozo: 110.86 million
  3. Central Lechera Asturiana: 97.99 million
  4. Campofrío: 85.54 million
  5. Gallo: 61.51 million
  6. Bimbo: 54.75 million
  7. Activia: 46.34 million
  8. Danone: 46.30 million
  9. Pescanova: 46.13 million
  10. Don Simón: 46.09 million

The report also worked out which was the most popular brand in each region of the country.

Coca-Cola was the most popular in six regions including Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia, the Balearics, Aragón and Cantabria. 

El Pozo, the Spanish company that sells various types of cold cuts, bacon, sausages, burgers and ham was the most popular brand in Andalusia, Murcia, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Navarre and the Canary Islands. 

In third place was Central Lechera Asturiana, which makes dairy products such as milk, yoghurts, butter and cream, and was the most popular in two different regions. Unsurprisingly it was the most popular brand in Asturias, but it was also the most favoured in La Rioja. 

READ ALSO: What are the rules for setting up a food truck in Spain? 

In fourth place was Campofrío, which sells meat products from sausages and ham to slices of turkey and chicken, as well as ready-made pizzas. It has also recently moved into vegetarian and vegan alternatives. It was the favourite brand for people living in Castilla y León and the Basque Country. 

Finally, the Galician dairy company LARSA which makes primarily milk, yoghurt and cheese was the most popular in the region of Galicia. 

Most popular brands a different sectors

When it came to Spaniards’ favourite brands in different sectors such as cleaning and hygiene, the results showed mainly well-known worldwide brands such as Colgate, Nivea and Fairy. 

Food Drink Dairy Cleaning Personal hygiene Fruit & Vegetables
El Pozo Coca Cola Central lechera Asturiana Fairy Colgate Plátano de Canarias
Campofrío Don Simón Activia Foxy Nivea Zespri
Gallo Fanta Danone Scottex Evax Florette
Bimbo Mahou Puleva Ariel Sanex Marlene
Pescanova Aquarius Reina Renova Pantene Horcaol