The Best Slice of Pie

By: Nate Furler, Marketing and Outreach Manager & Johanna Bergan, Education and Outreach Coordinator

The grocery world, more specifically the natural foods grocery, has exploded in the past decade. Not only has the interest in consumer purchasing of healthier, less processed, environmentally sustainable products and services increased, but also the number of companies competing to find placement of their products on store shelves.

With this massive influx of materials, also comes tremendous responsibility of Co-op managers and buyers to select the best possible products at reasonable prices to stock the shelves of the Co-op. Just like a savvy Co-op shopper, these buyers and managers must read labels, research companies, fact-check certifications, and attempt to secure only the best items for placement on our shelves.

In order to make this job simpler and more transparent, the Co-op has utilized our merchandising policy since May 2008. As the introduction of the 2008 policy states, we strive to make merchandising decisions and actions consistent with the mission, vision and values of the Co-op. “At Oneota, we aim to accommodate the diverse diets of our customers, while supporting environmentally sound food production and contributing to healthy lifestyles. Through open communication with Oneota Co-op members, we seek to create a product mix that represents basic nutritional needs, special dietary concerns, alternatives to questionable products, as well as the wants and needs of our members and customers.”

In August (2013) managers and buyers updated the policy to increase its usability and to better equip it to adapt to the constantly changing world of natural products. Having the Merchandising Policy (MP) goes a long way towards meeting our Ends, but it also serves as a daily tool. Our store buyers use the MP to make decisions about what products to stock on shelves. The MP is a guiding light for the Marketing team at the Co-op and helps us decide what to promote. The MP helps us serve our community while supporting a healthy membership (in body and mind), local foods economy, and be a supportive partner in the cooperative enterprise.

Our store management team has been working on this amended policy over the past several months. We celebrated the introduction of the revised MP with organic, fair trade chocolate and local, organic scones and cinnamon rolls, and a few gluten-free donuts. With what food will you choose to celebrate?

As always we welcome any and all feedback from our customers and member/owners. Please feel free to contact us in-store using the Customer Comment cards at the Customer Service Desk or via email to

To the right you will find an introduction to the 2013 revised OCC Merchandising Policy. You may view the full policy on our website or the display copy in-store at the Customer Service Desk.