Grocery Prices in Hawaii: Food Costs in 2021

A common question I see posted on forum threads about moving to Hawaii is: “What are the grocery prices in hawaii like?”

This question seems to spring from the common knowledge that Hawaii has higher grocery prices because most goods are manufactured or grown outside of the islands and need to ship over.

It’s a good question to ask if you’re considering a move to Hawaii. You’ll need to know how much of your household budget will need to be allocated to buying food and other groceries once you’re living on the islands.

Different people buy different types and amounts of groceries — the monthly grocery bill for a married couple with two growing teenagers will be vastly different from a single woman who eats a vegetarian diet for example. Anywho, Let’s dive right in!

List of Grocery Stores in Hawaii

Below is a list of the major grocery stores in Hawaii.

Foodland

Hawaii’s largest locally owned and operated grocery chain!

Times

Local supermarket chain with 24 locations, low prices, and good service.

Safeway

Safeway, like on the mainland.

Don Quijote

They sell everything! Like Costco, but more products, originally from Japan.

Whole Foods

Amazing for vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, keto, paleo and other diets. Wholefoods have everything that you can’t find at regular supermarkets, bit more pricey though.

Walmart

Walmart like the mainland.

Target

Target like the mainland but in Hawaii!

Which store has the lowest grocery prices in hawaii?

In comparing the grocery prices at supermarkets such as Don Quijote, Foodland, Safeway, and Times, for a general shop at most times of the year Don Quijote comes out as the cheapest option.

It is true that warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart have lower grocery prices overall, but these stores are not really ‘supermarkets’ and are not as comprehensive in their grocery offerings as supermarkets are.

This being said, with grocery prices being so high in general in Hawaii, the savings at warehouse stores like Costco are just too significant to pass up. In fact, everyone I know in Hawaii shops at Costco, Sam’s Club, and/or Walmart on a regular basis due to the generally high cost of groceries on the Hawaiian islands.

What is the Best Average Price of Groceries in Hawaii at Various Retailers?

To illustrate the difference in price between Costco and general supermarkets, I went to my local Costco and added up the prices of the same grocery items listed in Hawaii Business magazine’s price comparison (see table below).

It’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison — Costco carries only a limited number of brands, so I had to make some substitutions, which I’ve noted below.

There was only one item I was unable to find at all — the baby food — so to be fair, I used the highest price for that item that was listed in the magazine’s original comparison, which was Don Quijote’s.

It should also be noted that the Costco prices listed below were taken from the Hawaii Kai location in Honolulu — I’m sure prices vary somewhat between the different Costco locations throughout Hawaii.

Related Article: Where to go shopping in Maui

Costco vs. Don Quijote, Foodland, Safeway, and Times

 Best price average on Oahu at:
ProductDon QuijoteFoodlandSafewayTimesCostco

Dairy and Produce

    
Whole milk, 1 gallon jug (cheapest brand)$4.99$4.72$3.99$4.84$4.99
Carrots, 1 lb., loose1.071.491.491.29    0.70
Eggs, 12 large, Grade A (cheapest brand)2.612.872.662.36   1.99
Broccoli crowns, 1 lb.1.712.422.922.82  2.50
     

Meats

    
Ground beef, 20+% fat (small pack, price/lb.)2.682.993.193.413.29 (12% fat)
Chicken thighs, bone in (small pack, price/lb.)2.062.652.312.02 1.49
SPAM, 12 oz. can2.522.132.292.49  2.36
Hebrew National hot dogs, 7 pack4.524.784.606.32 5.75 (Kirkland)
     

Canned goods

    
Hunts tomato sauce, 15 oz. can1.401.931.581.99 0.58 (S&W)
Green Giant canned corn, 15.25 oz. can1.691.992.291.99  0.71 (Kirkland)
Coral tuna, 5 oz. can1.021.261.921.32  0.90 (Chicken of Sea)
     

Liquids

    
Budweiser beer, 12 pack of cans13.0910.9912.9911.99  8.76
Coke, 12 pack of cans6.195.595.995.16 3.65
Lion Gold coffee, 10 oz. bag5.226.087.195.52   4.37 (Hw’n. Isles)
Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, 10.75 oz. can1.491.431.391.50   0.64
     

Local favorites

    
Calrose white rice, 20 lb. bag, Hinode brand15.9910.9918.9913.99 11.60 (Homai)
Sapporo Ichiban Saimin, 2.25 oz.0.600.721.290.79   0.35
Aloha soy sauce, 24 oz. bottle2.893.993.993.19   1.29
Best Foods mayonnaise, 15 oz. jar3.994.595.394.39   1.64
     

Kids and cats

    
Friskies cat food, 5.5 oz. can0.660.780.860.73  0.44
Cheerios, 18 oz. box5.946.996.515.99   2.43
Gerber 2nd Foods baby food, 2 X 3.5 oz. packs1.591.491.181.49  1.59
Huggies Little Movers diapers,
for children over 27 lbs., 23 in a pack
12.2413.6611.9913.32 5.21
     

This and that

    
Heinz Ketchup, 20 oz.2.373.323.673.49   1.12
Skippy peanut butter, 16.3 oz.2.503.344.792.49  1.49
Love’s King White bread (16 oz. loaf)3.863.363.873.49  1.60 (Surf Kids)
Toilet paper, Charmin, 4 rolls
(Scott at Foodland)
5.545.194.694.82  3.07
     

Totals

$110.43$111.74$124.02$113.22$74.51

As I expected, Costco’s total grocery bill is the lowest of the four stores. But it’s interesting to see that Costco does not have the lowest prices when it comes to milk and most meats — you’re better off buying those items at a supermarket.

And if you’re a small household and can’t buy everything in bulk — for instance, buying a carton of 18 eggs at Costco makes no sense for me, because I can’t eat them all before the expiration date) — you’ll still want to shop at a supermarket for those items that you need to buy in smaller quantities.

Supermarkets definitely still have their uses in Hawaii, even if they don’t necessarily have the lowest prices.