S&R Philippines is like COSTCO in Japan. The two companies are linked. The buildings are the same, the internal layout is the same, and the products are similar. Well, alike in the name perhaps but not in taste.
I’m not sure if the US ships a different tasting product to the Philippines or if the US manufacturers ship substandard products to the Philippines. If the product does not meet the US taste standards, it’s on a ship for the Philippines. I’m unsure, but when I eat the food products here in the Philippines made in America, it’s the first thing that enters my mind.
If I order food from America, it tastes as it should. I share this food with Filipinos, and they love it. This taste testing leads me to believe that the food shipped is just subpar, and something went wrong in the making of the food. A lot more research will need to go into this thought.
I visited the S&R in Pampanga twice within ten days.
The parking lot is enormous, but there always seems to be a place to park up front. The same parking space has been available both times I’ve been there. That’s almost unbelievable because so many people visit the store daily.
There are no defined crossing areas, so everyone crosses the street wherever they want. Different than many other countries that want to keep customers safe.
Covid measures are in place at the store. Facemask, face shield, and ID are required to enter. Social distancing when in line to enter the store and a security guard is taking patrons temperatures. The guard is also checking any bag brought into the store for guns or other items banned.
Inside the Store
When entering the store, ATMs are on the right, which means you can take your money out at the store and not need a special stop elsewhere. Once you’re on the Skyway, it’s challenging to get off, find an ATM, and get back on, so this is a fantastic thing.
However, both ATMs were out of service on my second visit. I was glad I stopped at Mercury Drug at my starting location to withdraw money before arriving at S&R. I still didn’t need to leave and return to the Skyway, so that was good.
On the left, you collect a large cart and start shopping. These carts are the same cart you find in Sams Club or COSTCO. They are huge and hold a lot of products. They are to “help” you buy more and work as intended. The company has paid several focus groups to ensure the carts do.
The shopping experience is the same as Sams Club or COSTCO. A customer travels up and down vast grocery aisles of products and picks what they need or desire. I usually fall into the desired category.
A customer is shopping in a warehouse that has airconditioning or aircon as they call it in Asia. It’s a comfortable experience, and most people are excited to buy in bulk.
On my first visit, I found a lack of customer service, and the managers stood in the middle of the checkout floor and talked. The store shelves were half empty, and I couldn’t find an employee to ask questions.
My second visit was different, and employees were in certain places to help customers.
The shelves were full, and the store was inviting. Perhaps the company watched my short videos on YouTube. It was a 180-degree change.
At checkout, the manager was engaging and was quickly fulfilling employee and customer requests. I was impressed with my second visit and felt like the company went above usual customer service.
There was even an employee stationed at the cakes to answer questions.
Between my two visits, I have bought several products, but only a tiny amount of them taste like American products even though the product is labeled made in America.
Let’s go over a few of them.
Cake – I bought a carrot cake, and the taste was good. It’s wasn’t the full-sugar experience of an American Carrot cake, but the aftertaste was carrot flavor, so it was close enough.
Pickles – The Vlasic pickles were American tasting. I wish they had a wider variety besides whole pickles, but the great taste was there.
Chili – Hormel Chili is in a can and the same in America. This chili was a great find because I’ve not had any in years. I bought it with and without beans, and it tasted great.
Chips – The most significant issue so far is with chips. I have purchased several types, and none of them taste like American. I know chips also taste different in Japan, but it’s still a great taste. In the Philippines, the chips are uneatable for my American pallet. I threw most of them away.
I think I’ll make a separate chips article.
Candy – The candy is touch and go. The M&M peanuts purchased in a large container don’t taste like M&M but are worth eating. However, if you buy the sizeable mixed candy bags with regular M&Ms; in them, it’s an American taste.
Muffins – The muffins are incredible and taste American. I haven’t found American-tasting butter to put on top, but I’ll find some eventually.
Crackers – Regular crackers are from the Philippines, but there is a couple of choices from Cheez-it. The white cheddar has the American taste, but the Cheez-it Snap’d box does not taste American.
Sausage – Sausage in Japan is nothing more than a hotdog, so a COSTCO visit fixes that issue. Sausage is not a type of food made and enjoyed in the Philippines, but S&R has various sausages from different countries. The American sausage tastes American.
Hashbrowns – The Hashbrowns taste American, and there are several kinds.
Cheese – I found sharp cheddar cheese, which is my favorite. Melt it in chili, and it’s the best. The cheese tastes like American and is a special treat because I can’t find it in Japan.
Ham – The ham is sliced and packaged in a long container. It tastes like ham from America and is excellent with hashbrowns.
Peanuts – Planters dry roasted peanuts are a pass. The peanuts taste horrible and nothing like American.
Both times I visited the store, there were available checkout lines. Perhaps it has to do with Covid, but I’m usually waiting a half hour or more in Japan to check out.
My first visit to the store check-out took forever as I watched the managers stand around and talk. The second visit had hands-on managers, and the checkout moved fast. I was rolling the cart out of the store in 15 minutes.
Like COSTCO, there are hot foods and cold drinks customers can buy and take with them or eat at the store. Here is where the real waiting comes in. If you want anything on the menu except drinks, you are going to wait an hour.
There is no line, but the production is so slow that it’s almost going backward. One slice of pizza, and you’re waiting an hour. The pizza has little taste, and none of the food tastes American. Not even the cheeseburger. It’s disappointing, but it’s the same in Japan, except COSTCO serves hotdogs and pizza.
Exit the Building
Just like Sams Club and COSTCO, customers must show a receipt when exiting with their Purchase purchases. A security guard is located outside the door if any customer thought the shopping experience was a free one.
While the parking lot is large, there are no customer entry points to it. Customers need to take their carts around where cars enter the parking lot. This situation is not safe nor convenient for any customer.
S&R sells quality products, but if you expect all American-made products to taste American, you’ll be disappointed. I’m sure the people of the Philippines don’t know the difference, but for some Americans who shop, the difference in taste will, in some cases, make you sick.
Stay away from the potato chips!
Please read about my Philippines hospital stay here.
Have you been to an S&R store in the Philippines? Share your experience in the comment section below.
Do you have questions about S&R in the Philippines? Please post your questions below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.