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Pick Up or Delivery? How to Get American Foods Mailed to You

After moving abroad, many of the estimated 6 million U.S. expats[1] find themselves suddenly craving their favorite American foods like peanut butter, root beer, bagels, mac 'n cheese or chocolate candy bars.

"When you leave for a while and you're far from home, it's these foods and candies that you crave because it's a taste of your American home," says Ann-Claire Bocage, owner of My American Market, an online grocery store based in Toulouse, France, which internationally ships American foods across Europe.

Finding those favorite American foods can be difficult if not impossible when living in a foreign country. Here are some tips for expats who want to curb their cravings and keep shipping costs low by taking advantage of online foreign exchange.

“When you leave for a while and you’re far from home, it’s these foods and candies that you crave because it’s a taste of your American home.”

— Ann-Claire Bocage, owner of My American Market

Ask a Friend

Many expats ask a friend or family member to mail them their favorite goods. To help ensure the food arrives safely after international shipping, ask the friend to pack the items in a sturdy box that has insulated walls to protect the food from extreme temperatures. Keep in mind, refrigerated foods must be kept at a temperature between 32 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.[2]

The package should be labeled as "fragile" and "perishable food" in multiple places - typically above the address, below the postage stamp and on the back or bottom of the package.[3]

Shipping costs vary according to the package's destination and weight, as well as the time of year. To figure out the cost of shipping a package to a foreign country, expats can use online tools such as the U.S. Postal Service's postage price calculator.

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Expats can reimburse their friends and family in their own currency with the help of a trusted online foreign exchange service. By signing up for email market-rate alerts, individuals can be alerted when their preferred currency exchange rates become available. Then, they can log into their online foreign exchange account and secure the latest available exchange rates for sending online wire transfers for their international payments. And since it's possible to store friends and family's bank details, it's quick and easy to send reimbursement payments.

Shop Online

Here are a few online options to find American food while living abroad:

·      American Soda  is a U.K. company that sells and ships American drinks, candy, food, baking products and non-food items like plastic bags throughout Europe.

·      Stateside Candy Co. is another U.K.-based company that sells foods and beverages from the U.S. and U.K. including candy, grocery staples like peanut butter, breakfast cereal and soda.  

·      Cybercandy  is a U.K. company that sells American, European, Canadian, Singaporean, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese candy online and at retail stores.

·      My American Market  is a French company that sells non-perishable goods throughout Europe and in French territories.

·      The Foreign Buyers' Club  sells gluten-free, organic, kosher and other specialty and mainstream American foods in Japan.

·  enables expats to receive more than 13,000 household and grocery items shipped to them within five to seven days. The site also offers a package forwarding service where individuals can purchase from their favorite stores in the U.S. and have the packages delivered to their door in their new country.

[1] Mister Taxman: Why Some Americans Working Abroad Are Ditching Their Citizenships," Jan. 31, 2013, Time

[2] "How to Ship Perishable Foods," eHow

[3] "Mailing Food to Troops Overseas: A Guide to Holiday Care Packages Do's and Don'ts," theKitchn

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