Inside a Supermarket in Panama

Photograph of the fruits section of El Rey Supermarket in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

El Rey is one of the largest chains of supermarkets in Panama fiercely competing with Super 99 owned by Ricardo Martinelli, now President of Panama.  One of the characteristics El Rey is its permanent fresh stock of high quality fruits and vegetables, albeit quite expensive.

Although photographs are now allowed inside the building, I was able to obtain this picture undercover depicting the multicolored section of tropical fruits.  You can easily detect the prices of some of the merchandise.  Let’s take a closer look at these prices:

  • Mangos:  $0.85/lb.
  • Bananas:  $0.31/lb.
  • Avocados:  $0.85/lb.
  • Plantains:  $0.35 each

I was surprised to see mangos being sold here and their excessive price.  This delicious tropical fruit is so abundant in the country, most of them fall to the ground and rot.  A few days ago I went to Banco General at Hato Pintado, and sadly saw about fifty mangos rotting on the ground.  A creative  entrepreneur should take advantage of this situation  and promote mango marmalade or a similar product which I’m sure many of us would buy.  Good Day.


13 thoughts on “Inside a Supermarket in Panama”

  1. It is a shame to go the a supermarket and see guacamole imported from California when that is something Panama could provide. And imported frozen Cornish Game hens.

    I have a shared mango tree in the backyard. I picked up mine whereas my neighbor did nothing with his. I had so many I gave away to neighbors.

    The one thing I’d like to see here is the Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit.

  2. Hi Old Timer:

    There you go. These are some of the economic ironies of Third World Nations. We have cheap food available to feed our population, yet instead we prefer to import the same food from the rich nations. It boggles my mind. Once I saw Peruvian mangos on sale at a local supermarket. Mangos…for Pete’s sake!

    I love mangos, ripe plantains, home fried cashews, avocados, watermelons, oranges, bananas and grapefruits. All of these fruits are available here. There is no need to buy sophisticated fruits from abroad like apples, grapes, pears and so forth.

    Best Regards,


  3. Yummy! I just was out in our backyard and only counted 11 mangos on our tree:(
    BUT… the tree in our neighbor’s front yard has 3 clusters with about 30 mangos on it!
    Luckily these clusters are on our side, ha ha, but they are great neighbors and allow us to share. Unfortunately the freeze affected the trees this year in Florida. Last year was a great year, even with the freeze, everytime you walked out the front door a mango would drop off the tree! I learned to listen for this great sound of a falling mango so I could rush out and grab it, if it fell on our side of course!
    What a fantastic sound!
    We had so many mangos that we had to make agua de mango (rico) we also had to cut up and freeze some mangos.

    Sr. Omar, do they have a mercado
    de abastos in Panama? I’m sure they do. I never saw one while living there, but of course all of the gringos used to shop @ the commisary when we lived there. There were a lot of mango trees where we lived, but I don’t remember them ripening and being too sweet. I guess it depends on the the variety of the mango tree. We lived on the Army base, Ft. Kobbe, (later changed to Howard Airforce base)
    Don’t know what they call it now.

    When I lived in Mexico we knew some people who made a living just importing & exporting avocados at el mercado de abastos, it was funny porque era como un changaro, el local que tenian en el mercado y su casa era una mansion!
    I think that their business was either a
    monopoly or handed down through the family.
    They also had exotic fruits like mamay
    guyaba, guyabana, tamarindo..etc.(in Mexico) that I never saw in Panama.

    There was a very special exotic fruit in Panama that we called ginnups and we used to buy them @ the chinese gardens right outside of Cardenas in the Canal Zone. Tenian un sabor como a agridulce. I have only seen them here in Florida in Miami and Tampa. (usually @ a latin tiendita)
    I’ve been told that the Colombian word for these ginnups is mamoncillos & in Mexico they’re called Huaya. The funny
    thing is I never saw them in Mexico during the 20 yrs. I lived there. A friend of mine told me he used to steal them from a neighbor’s yard, he lived the southern state of Chiapas, whereas I was
    living in Jalisco.
    Well thanks for letting me ramble on here, have a great day!

    1. I love Patricia’s comment, both for content and the way it wanders between Spanish and English, sounds JUST like our household!! haha

      Nena grew up in Boquete eating mango almost everyday. Some time after the birth of our first son, she became totally allergic to the fruit, skin rashes, swollen throat, the works!?

      Omar, the Mamón that you mentioned, is that the same as the “Ricky” Mamón that the farmers in Boquete talk about? One problem with my Spanish language education is that I learned a huge number of slang/colloquialisms that I only know from context. It makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about when I actually have NO clue!! haha

      jim and nena
      fort worth, tx

      1. Hi Jim and Nena:

        I’m not familiar with the term “Ricky Mamón”. The names of fruits is a difficult issue even for Spanish speaking persons. From one country to another the name changes.

        For example, “papaya” is called “fruta bomba” in some countries of South America.

        I told my wife to buy a bunch of simple mamones and mamones chinos to photograph them and post these picture here. That way we all know what we’re talking about.

        Sorry about Nena’s allergy. Mangos are delicious!



  4. Hi Patricia:

    I’ve enjoyed your interesting comments on fruits. You must be a fruit fan by the way you describe them.

    Yes, we have a “Mercado de Abastos” which distributes agricultural products to Panama City and its surrounding urban areas.

    Howard is still there, but it’s no longer an Air Force base. As you probably know, all military bases were eliminated after the Torrijos-Carter Treaty of 1977.

    We have a fruit called “Mamón” which is very popular here. I don’t know if it’s the same fruit Colombians call “Mamoncillos“. Maybe I should take a photograph of this fruit and post it here to clarify the doubts.

    Enjoy the rest of the day,


  5. Hello fruit lovers,

    You find more than the above mentioned fruits in Chiriquí. By the way, we have homemade guayaba marmalade ready for dessert (with got cheese my neighbour just gave us). I believe Patricia refers to mamón chino.

    Thanks for the nice pictures Omar.

  6. Hello Hilda:

    The homemade guayaba marmalade must be a great temptation, difficult to stay away from. Thanks for the clarification regarding the “mamón chino”. This fruit had completely slipped my mind.

    I’m glad you are content with our pictures. There are more in the pipeline. Please stay tuned!



  7. There is a Yahoo group called “rarefruit”. The members are mostly from Florida. August/September is right around the corner…..time for mangosteens…

  8. Hello Old Timer:

    It’s been about 58 years since I last heard that word—mangosteens. We used to have two trees of mangosteens in our front yard in Changuinola where we lived. I can taste the fruit now in my mind.

    I stained many clean shirts with their yellowish-orange dye. Got many spankings and scoldings from my mother after staining my clothes with the outer peelings of this fruit.

    Good comment!


  9. The employees here are wonderful and very helpful, not mention the women have the most beautiful smiles. Contact me any time.

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