Nine struggles in Swedish supermarkets

Maddy Savage
Maddy Savage - [email protected]
Nine struggles in Swedish supermarkets
Plastic applicator tampons can be tricky to find in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

If you're an expat living in Sweden, you might not find what you're looking for in your local grocery store. Here are nine things some of the The Local's writers and readers have struggled to spot on the shelves. What have we missed?


1. Custard
Swedes are obsessed with dairy products, from eggs to cheese and easy-pour cartons of yoghurt. But the creamy custard that Brits and Australians love to douse over their sweet treats is absent from most supermarkets. The Local's COO Tara Sonnorp suggests scouting for vaniljvisp or vanilj sauce instead (that's vanilla sauce in English by the way).

How else to enjoy it than with some fresh blueberries? Photo: Kai Hendry/Flickr 
2. Caster sugar 
If you enjoy baking, you may find it tricky to stick to your usual recipes in Sweden. Fine caster sugar isn't widely available, with most Swedes using normal white sugar instead. Chocolate chips, lard and ready made shortcrust pastry can also be tricky to track down, as well as some spices like saffron.

Sweet tooth? Photo: Tessa G/Flickr 
3. Applicator tampons
Scouring the aisles for sanitary products can be embarassing wherever you're living and The Local's Australian contributor Angela Evans says she gave up looking for plastic applicator tampons after six visits to her local grocery store. "Swedish girlfriends who had lived abroad nodded wistfully when I told them," she added. Large city supermarkets are more likely to stock these, although some expats say they have got lucky in suburban stores.

Cardboard applicator tampons are more common in Sweden. Photo: me and  the sysop/Flickr
4. Cooking oil spray
Non-stick oil sprays can be hard to trace in Sweden, which is a gripe for The Local's Digital Services manager Olly Goffe, who hails from the UK. Unsurprisingly, he also misses mature British cheddar cheese.

Other oil spray brands are available. But not in Sweden. Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr
5. Hot cold and flu drinks
While many countries allow you to purchase strong cold remedies in the supermarket, you'll need to visit a chemist in Sweden and even then the drugs might not be as strong. "I am regularly asked to stock up on those flu powders you add boiling water to when I head home to the UK," says The Local reader Amit Sandhu. 

Have you been asked to stock up on brands like this? Photo: Greg McMullin/Flickr 
6. Resealable plastic bags
Clear bags you can seal are a hit in countries including the US, Germany and the UK, but not in Sweden. "Packing sandwiches for a picnic sucks without those ziplocs," says American expat Rikki René Thornton. "I am not sure if the 'freezer bags' here are really freezer bags or just bags they put in the freezer!" she adds.

Here's a happy resealable bag. Photo: David Laferriere/Flickr 
7. Ring binders
Folders might not feature in your weekly shop, but two-ring files and lever arch folders are frequently found in British and French supermarkets. Many Swedes prefer four-ringed files though. "I am sure that Andreas Tengwall was a great guy. But every time I open and close one of his 1889 patented four ring binders a little bit of me wishes that Swedish for Beginners taught me more curse words," says The Local's contributor Angela Evans, who needs a lot of these files in her day job as a lawyer.

Ring binders often have four rings in Sweden. Photo: David Laferriere/Flickr 
8. Flavoured coffee creamer
It couldn't be easier to fix a coffee craving in Sweden, where it's almost a taboo not to drink the hot brown stuff. But the vanilla, caramel or chocolate flavoured coffee creamers that are much loved in countries including the US, Canada and South Korea aren't readily available.

What flavour do you miss most? Photo: Coyoty/Flickr
9. Glazed cherries
Sweet, sticky cherries to top off your cakes or buns are absent from most Swedish stores. American reader Lilly C Jansson says she misses them so much she now bulk buys them online. 

Is your mouth watering now? Photo: Ed Austin/Flickr 
What have we missed from your country? Leave a comment below or tweet us @TheLocalSweden


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