The Bulk Pantry Project

The Bulk Pantry Project

by: Nate Furler, Marketing Specialist

Price perception issues remain in the forefront of the minds of many shoppers and community members when it comes to the Oneota Co-op.  Such perceptions, and realities were vividly apparent when analyzing the results of our recent Customer Survey.  Members and customers are also concerned with environmental issues and the impact, as consumers, we have on the planet.  Keeping both of these ideas in mind, we thought it was time to do a comparison of bulk and packaged grocery items, to better illustrate the positive options that we provide at the Co-op.

Let’s tackle the environmental issue first.  When buying in bulk, you are able to fill your own (clean) reusable containers over and over again.  This reduces, greatly, the amount of packaging that is commonly thrown away, or in the best case – recycled, by the consumer.  At the Co-op, we offer different degrees of packaging options – ranging from plastic bags, to plastic containers, to glass containers – all of which can be reused to their own structural limits.  As we have stated in past articles, sometimes as much as 80 percent of the cost of a product is in the packaging.  You might as well imagine yourself throwing perfectly good dollar bills right into the garbage (or the recycle bin) every time you throw something away.  Yes, a sturdy glass jar or plastic container may cost more in the short run, but just as it is with recycling, the investment is in the future savings and reuse.

The environmental issue relates directly to the elephant in the room: price.  To better illustrate what shopping in bulk can do for your pocketbook, we have put together a comparison of 29 similar pantry and household “staple” items. (see chart)  These items are available in both our grocery and bulk departments.  Brands may be slightly different, but the product is comparable.  We’ve included flour, oils, spices, pasta, cereals, shampoo, soap, to name just a few.

The results speak directly to the Co-op’s mission, which is to provide our member-owners with “reasonably priced whole, bulk and minimally packaged foods and household items.”  We calculated an overall savings of 28% on the entire basket of 29 selected items when purchased in bulk form.  The total cost to the consumer for the “packaged grocery” basket was $166.51, compared to $119.60 for the “bulk” cart.  And just to reiterate, these are like items that were compared – or as we like to say “we compared walnuts to walnuts without the shell.”  The comparisons can be found at the front of the store and we encourage you to stop and see how such a small change can make such a big difference – both for your wallet and the environment.

Come to the Co-op and experience what we can offer you and your family, particularly when it comes to bulk items.  We are always open to new ideas and new products and will gladly explore additional options if you don’t find what you’d like.  See you at the Co-op.