Coopera market has quickly become a favorite among expats in the west end (Ordoñez Lasso and Puertas del Sol areas) of Cuenca. Why? For its quality foods at low prices.
Its prices are higher than you'll pay at any of the indigenous markets, and the selection isn't as vast, but it does have two redeeming qualities...
You don't have to wander through an acre or more of vendors, lugging shopping bags with you! And a lot of what's sold there is organically grown or produced (not all of it, but a lot).
And it's not just expats in the west end shopping who are shopping at Coopera. There are three other locations, two in the east and north, and one in San Joaquín, that are popular with expats and Cuencanos alike.
Coopera is a credit union (a cooperative de ahorro y crédito in Spanish) that serves people in Cuenca, its surroundings areas, and other areas closer to the coast.
The Coopera market (its Spanish name is Centro de acopio Coopera, or, literally, Coopera center of stocking up) is the retail store side of the credit union. It's open to credit union members (who receive lower prices) and nonmembers. What's Available at Coopera
While they don't have nearly the variety of items that the mercados have, the various Coopera markets do carry a very large range of produce, including:
In addition, there's a great meat department (Lulie really likes the beef there).
It offers fresh and frozen beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and pork products, plus cuy (the Andean delicacy).
There are also deli products from La Italiana. And they sell seafood and fish.
You'll find a wide assortment of grains, seeds and beans, plus quinoa and many dairy products (no fresh milk though).
Eggs are available, as is fresh squeezed orange juice. You can also buy several products made by Coopera's producer members, including jams, pickled vegetables, ketchup (salsa de tomate) and similar items.
Coffees, herbal teas, sugar, panela (dried sugar cane syrup), and honey are also available.
The Coopera markets are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., except Friday and Saturday, when they're open until 9 p.m.
The west end location is on Richard Darquea between Avenida de las Américas and V.M. Albornoz.
The east end location is on Avenida González Suárez at García Moreno, at the VazGas gas station.
The Monay location (in the northeast) is at Primicias and Avenida 24 de Mayo.
The San Joaquín location is on the autopista (small highway) Medio Ejido, at kilometer 3 when traveling from Avenida de las Américas.
For more information about the locations or what you'll find at Coopera markets, check out the web site.
If you're tired of lugging pounds of produce and meat around one of the mercados, but don't want to pay the higher prices at one of the supermarkets, then the Coopera market is your best bet for quality (often organic) and variety.
And if you want to see what about $65 bought us at Coopera in late 2010 (prices are higher as of June 2012), see the photos and read the article about the food prices in Cuenca.
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I just want to thank you both soooo much for creating this web site. I am originally from Cuenca but moved to New York 11 years ago and have not being back since. My husband and I are planning on visiting Cuenca over the Summer and this web site has helped me a lot.
When I came to the US we still had the "sucre," the bus ride cost 1,000 sucres and a pack of trident gum would cost 3,000 sucres. I am very nervous to go back, but thanks to your web site I now know what to expect.
My husband is American and Captivating Cuenca has taught him a lot about what my great city has to offer, things that I had forgotten about myself! :)
Thank You both so much! I cannot wait to visit Cuenca!!