Shopping for groceries is not a problem in Indonesia. There are many supermarkets, ranging from the fairly basic to the upscale modern hypermarkets found in the bigger cities.
Large modern retail groups such as Carrefour, Hero/Giant, Alfa/Alfamart, Matahari/Hypermart, SuperIndo, Indomaret and Lotte Mart have expanded their presence in Jakarta, Surabaya and throughout several other urban areas in Indonesia. These outlets have become very popular among the middle- to high-income consumer groups. As store numbers increase, these relatively new retail outlets are drawing more middle-income and low-income consumers, as well as small shop owners.
Minimarts to hypermarts
Quite handy are minimarts, which have a limited range of goods but are open long hours, many operating 24 hours a day. You'll find the very similar Indomaret, Alfamart and, particularly in Bali, the 24-hour chain, Circle K. Interestingly, Circle K in Bali sells hard liquor in addition to beer, something you won't find at other, even big, supermarkets. They are also in Jakarta (sans the liquor), mainly in the south of the city. Newer entrants in the minimart scene are 7-Eleven and Lawson. Many of these convenience stores have tables and chairs outside - although no actual table service, so they can avoid being classified as cafes or restaurants. They have become popular hangouts for middle-class youths.
The run-of-the-mill supermarket chains are Hero, SuperIndo, Farmers Market and Hypermart - the latter is usually only often found in smaller cities. If you shop at one of these, you'll soon learn that, while they stock all the basics, you won't find that rare cheese you've been thinking about or your kid's favorite breakfast cereal from home here. They're fine, though, for most things. An exception is the Hero outlet in Taman Anggrek Mall (which has wine) and the one in Kemang, South Jakarta, home to many foreigners, which is a few notches above their regular stores.
Increasingly popular and pervasive is the French behemoth, Carrefour. They have huge cavern-like hypermarkets all over Java and Bali (now in Medan, Palembang, Makassar, Batam and Pontianak too) and generally sell a wide range of food and other products (electronics, basic furniture, etc). Be prepared for shopping-cart fights and long lines on the weekend when they get very crowded. Don't be surprised to see dozens of staff seemingly idle in the store, while only a few checkouts are staffed.
Note that different minimart and supermarket outlets within the same chain may vary greatly in terms of cleanliness and freshness of food. It's quite possible for one chain to have an outlet that is filthy and infested by cockroaches, while another outlet may be immaculately clean and well managed.
Dying for comfort food?
If you're dying for stuff from home, you'll need to visit one of the gourmet specialty stores or upmarket supermarkets, which stock imported goodies. Of course, you should expect to pay similar prices to back home too, and in some cases much more. These supermarkets include Ranch Market (Jakarta & Surabaya), Grand Lucky, Kemchick's in Jakarta, Food Hall in upscale Jakarta malls and Bali Deli (Bali & Jakarta, more planned). The Japanese-owned department store, Sogo, does a nice supermarket and is located in various malls in Jakarta, Bandung, Medan and Surabaya. There is also the New York-style deli/supermarket called Gourmet Garage in Kemang. All these are top-end stores stock good quality local and imported products. As the list suggests, though, don't count on finding these in the smaller Indonesian cities or towns.
If you're new in town, trying to find the supermarket you want to visit can be complicated so here is some useful information about the better ones.
Where to find them:
Carrefour has 84 outlets (74 hypermarts, 7 markets and 3 Express stores) across 28 cities and regions of Indonesia. Locations can be found via the company's online store locator.
Hero has an online store locator for its supermarkets and Giant hypermarkets, although it does not always function.
Farmers Market was founded in 2009 and is under the same group as Ranch Market. The 11 Farmers Market outlets are listed here.
SuperIndo has 116 outlets of various size across Indonesia. The locations can be found here.
Lotte Mart's 19 outlets in Indonesia are listed here.
Hypermart's store locations are listed here.
The original Kemchick's is found in Kemang (021) 7179-3514. It also has an outlet in Pacific Place mall near the Jakarta Stock Exchange (021) 5140-0440. It no longer has an online presence.
Ranch Market has nine branches and one flagship store. The locations are listed here. Bali Deli has outlets in Seminyak, Bali (0361) 738-686 and fX plaza in Central Jakarta (021) 2555-4244, as well as a website for more info, www.balideli.net.
Sogo's 13 outlets, all located in upscale malls, are listed here.
Gourmet Garage is located at Jalan Kemang Raya #66 in Jakarta, and can be contacted at (021) 719-7161.
Contributor: Nick Aarons
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