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Grocery stores in Iceland

How Much is Food in Iceland in 2024?

Updated in May 2024 to reflect food prices in Iceland in 2024.

Iceland is considered expensive in international comparison, not least in terms of food. There are many factors at play to explain this, such as the size of the market, large share of imported food and oligopoly. The government levies heavy tax on imported agricultural products in order to protect domestic produce, which is not able to compete with the large-scale production of bigger markets. Let’s take a closer look at the prices for groceries, eating out and Icelandic specialty foods in May 2024.

Grocery Prices in Iceland

Inflation has been decreasing again in Iceland in recent months and went down to 6% in the latest issued numbers (1 April 2024). The most popular grocery stores in Iceland are Bónus (the cheapest store) and Krónan (another low price grocery store). Bónus is older and more basic in terms of look and variety, whereas Krónan has a stronger emphasis on e.g. variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and being environmentally responsible. The biggest competitor to those two is Costco, which has one store in Iceland. Here are the price levels of common food items:

  • Whole milk (1 L) – 210 to 247 ISK
  • Coffee, Gevalia (500 g) – 999 to 1055 ISK
  • Bread (500 g) – 399 to 719 ISK
  • Eggs (12) – 696 to 759 ISK
  • Plain rice (1 kg) – 449 to 599 ISK
  • Cheese (1 kg) – 2099 to 2279 ISK
  • Chicken legs (950 g) – 986 to 1250 ISK
  • Apples (1 kg) – 283 to 526 ISK
  • Bananas (1 kg) – 320 to 321 ISK
  • Ground beef (1 kg) – 2690 to 2998 ISK
  • Oranges (1 kg) – 350 to 518 ISK
  • Tomatoes (1 kg) – 500 to 602 ISK
  • Potatoes (1 kg) – 333 to 350 ISK
  • Onions (1 kg) – 239 to 306 ISK
  • Lettuce head – 413 to 638 ISK
  • Bottle of wine (mid-range)* – 3500 to 5000 ISK
  • Beer (0.5 L)* – 299 to 369 ISK

*Alcohol has through the years only been available in the state monopoly stores (Vínbúðin), bars and restaurants. However, two shops, Nýja Vínbúðin and Heimkaup, started selling alcohol online around two years ago after claiming they found a loophole in the law to do so (registering as online shops abroad, delivering to Iceland).

Prices of common food items – low range

In a price survey by the Icelandic Confederation of Labour last year (2023), the price for a shopping basket for a dinner gathering in the cheapest store (Bónus) was 53,196 ISK (355 EUR/377 USD) and Krónan has almost the same price but the most expensive store (Heimkaup) would charge 54% more for the same products, meaning it can pay off to look for a Bónus or Krónan store if you are buying in bulk. In this hypothetical dinner gathering, the menu would consist of a leg of lamb with sauce, potato gratin and salad. The appetiser would be a shrimp cocktail and for dessert, there would be an apple pie.

Icelandic Food and Specialities

Special Icelandic food is for example skyr (dairy), flatkökur (flat bread), hangikjöt (smoked lamb), plokkfiskur (fish stew) and harðfiskur (dried fish). Putting hangikjöt slices with butter spread on flatkökur is a magic mix that many Icelanders miss if they move abroad.

  • Skyr – plain (500 g) – 439 to 538 ISK
  • Skyr with blueberries (500 g) – 539 to 655 ISK
  • Flat bread (170 g) – 179 to 218 ISK
  • Smoked lamb slices to put on bread (115 g) – 970 to 1149 ISK
  • Dried fish (100 g) – 1329 to 1539 ISK
  • Fish stew (400 g) – 726 to 799 ISK
Traditional Icelandic food items – low range

Apart from food that people often miss is Icelandic candy. The most popular candy is called Þristur (literally meaning three in cards) which is a small milk chocolate covered bar with liquorice bits inside and soft chocolate mousse. Draumur is a milk chocolate bar with liquorice inside. Tromp is chocolate coated licorice with coconut filling. Lava Cheese is melted cheddar cheese (its shape resembles solidified lava) and the founders got the idea from the melted cheese from a grilled sandwich that floats out and solidifies on the grill. Many people consider this byproduct to be the best part of a grilled sandwich.

  • Þristur (250 g) – 499 ISK
  • Draumur (180 g) – 540 to 589 ISK
  • Tromp (285 g) – 536 to 800 ISK
  • Lava Cheese (60 g) – 660 to 769 ISK
Icelandic candy prices – low range

Restaurant Prices

Our guide to restaurant prices in Iceland gives more detailed information on this part but let us sum up the main points here. In the fast food category, you could get a hot dog with everything (ein með öllu) at Bæjarins Beztu for 740 ISK or a lamb shawarma wrap at Mandi for 1890 ISK. In terms of casual dining, you could get a fish of the day at Snaps Bistro for 4930 ISK or a lamb shank at Salka Valka for 5200 ISK. If you are thinking about fine dining, you could get for example a beef tenderloin at Grillmarkaðurinn for 9690 ISK or a rib-eye Danish crown at Apótek for 9890 ISK. Last but not least, if you want a traditional Icelandic meal, you could try Icelandic lamb meat soup at Café Loki for 4600 ISK or a singed sheep’s head at Íslenski barinn for 3850 ISK.

Casual dining in Iceland – price examples

Conclusion

Food prices in Iceland are high in international comparison and if you want to save money on food in Iceland it can pay off to look for the cheapest stores, Bónus and Krónan rather than e.g. Heimkaup, Hagkaup, Nettó and Krambúðin. This becomes apparent when you compare the price of a hypothetical shopping cart for a dinner gathering, where the most expensive store charges 54% more than the cheapest options (Bónus and Krónan). For individual items, the price range varies a lot. The price difference between the most expensive and cheapest options for bananas is almost nothing (1 ISK per kg) while there is a significant difference between the prices for apples (86%). 

In restaurants, the price difference between fast food and casual dining options can be significant but the difference between casual and fine dining restaurants is surprisingly little compared with other countries.

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