BIG is an organization dedicated to helping consumers, food makers and grocers learn about the many environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods.

by swilliams on Mar 19, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Portland, Ore. – March 19, 2014 –The Bulk is Green Council (BIG), together with natural food stores and grocery stores across the country recently participated in the 2013 National Bulk Foods Week to celebrate and educate consumers about the eco-friendly and affordable benefits of buying natural and organic foods in bulk.

 

Approximately 1,200 stores signed up to participate in this weeklong event held October 13-19, 2013 by decorating their stores, promoting through literature, offering samples and discounts on bulk food products, and telling the Bulk is Green story.

 

A big thank you to all involved for helping to make this year's National Bulk Foods Week our most successful yet.  More than 1,200 retailers nationwide participated in the 3rd annual National Bulk Foods Week - keep up the good work and spread the love for (and word about) bulk foods!

 


The Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is proud to announce Fresh Market Store #105 as the winner of the "2013 Bulk Retailer of the Year" award.  Fresh Market #105, located in Miami Beach, FL showed creativity and enthusiasm in promoting National Bulk Foods Week.

Congratulations Fresh Market, Store #105!

 

The Bulk is Green (BIG) Council would like to thank everyone who participated, and encourages you to participate in the 2014 National Bulk Foods Week to be held in October.

 

For more information about the benefits of buying in bulk, please visit www.bulkisgreen.org.

 

ABOUT BULK IS GREEN COUNCIL

The Bulk is Green (BIG) Council is an organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying natural and organic in bulk. Founded in 2008, the council serves as a research and advocacy group, conducting and publishing studies on industry trends and offering educational tools and resources online. The board includes industry leaders Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Hain Celestial, Lundberg Family Farms, SunRidge Farms and Trade Fixtures. Additional information is available at BulkisGreen.org.

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by Admin on Aug 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Sizing up Your Growth Strategy, Natural Foods Merchandiser - Joel Warner

 (Click to enlarge)  

Expansion.  It's likely the most exciting, but intimidating, milestone in the lifespan of your business.  Whether you’re looking to add a second location, expand an existing store or just increase your product offerings, growing your company comes with risks—but also sizeable potential rewards.  “Expanding boils down to one question,” says Tom Sokoloff, president of Paradise Health and Nutrition, a three-store chain in Brevard County, Fla. “Are you ready to have your life changed?”  If you are ready to make the leap for your business, questions abound: What’s the smartest way to go about an expansion?  How do you determine the right spot for a new location or the products and services to feature in an enlarged retail space?  And how do you know if it’s really time to grow? 

Here are some tips on what to do—and not to do—from retailers who’ve successfully expanded.

Know when the time is right.  It’s easy to think that once your store has reached a certain level of sales, it’s time to grow.  But Dean Nelson, owner of Dean’s Natural Food Market, says he had different reasoning behind expanding his flagship store in Ocean Township, N.J., from 5,800 to 7,500 square feet and adding smaller locations in nearby Shrewsbury and Basking Ridge.  “Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you should expand,” he says.  “You expand when you think you are not hitting a particular market in your store.  Are you driving consumers elsewhere because you can’t meet their needs?  That’s really the expansion question.”  Store expansions, after all, mean not just major capital expenses, but also sizeable increases in overhead costs, and you have to be sure the potential increase in market share is worth it, Nelson says.  That’s why, before he expanded his operation, he consulted with outside experts.  “I don’t usually believe in consultants,” he says.  “But I think there are times when you need to reach outside of your knowledge base and get some guidance, so you can make a decision on quantifiable information, and not just your gut.”

Consider new locations.  “We used to be able to draw people from up to 15 miles away routinely, because if they wanted good natural, organic products, they didn’t have another choice,” says Terry Brett, owner of the Kimberton Whole Foods chain in Pennsylvania.  “But as mainstream stores started to add more and more natural and organic lines, I saw we were going to lose a lot of these customers.  They were going to drive three miles to Wegmans to do their natural foods shopping, rather than drive another 12 miles to our store.”  Today, the reality is, if retailers want to keep these customers, they have to go to them.  That’s why Kimberton currently boasts five locations.  But how do you determine where to plant your flag these days, especially when there aren’t many communities left that aren’t already serviced by natural options?  One way is to design new stores that build upon, instead of dominate, the existing natural retail landscape.  For Sizing up your growth strategy example, Donnie Caffery of Good Foods Grocery in Virginia, made sure his two small-footprint stores were part of the regional “natural food circuit” by focusing on an area untapped by his competitors: bulk food offerings, including 450 bulk bins and 350 jars of spices and herbs.  “Nobody else around here is moving that department forward,” he says.  “We’ve found a niche within a niche here.”  Niche positioning is also the reason why Brett’s ongoing expansion strategy entails moving closer to bigger retailers such as Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market, instead of away from them.  According to Brett, the presence—and success—of such stores suggests there’s an existing market for high-end natural foods, one that could also support smaller, independent stores like his that offer a specialty selection.  “There’s a huge movement to buy local,” he explains.  “We can focus on sourcing products locally or regionally and have a number of products you can only get at a smaller independent because the vendors can’t supply these larger chains.  We are going to be the ‘town grocery store’ to a certain degree.  So many small mom-and-pops have been knocked out of business by the big chains.  There’s a chance for small-footprint retailers to come in and become a local community market.”

Nail down a plan.  Having a well-reasoned expansion plan in place is essential, says Shannon Hoffmann, co-owner of GreenAcres Market.  For example, as GreenAcres grew from a single store in Wichita, Kan., to a second store in Kansas City, Mo., and then a third in Jenks, Okla., the business made sure to nail down its inter-store organization and communication systems.  “We needed to know how the stores would communicate, how they were related and how the central staff would work equally between all stores,” Hoffmann says.  “You don’t want to fall into an out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome,” in which one location ends up attracting greater managerial attention to the detriment of the others.  At the same time, GreenAcres put together solid ground teams for each store, crews that understood the unique needs of their location.  “The local community needs to feel that the store is their store,” Hoffmann says, and not an operation that is being managed from afar.  For Sokoloff, careful expansion planning also meant having a savvy financial strategy in place.  For his first store expansion, he secured a bank loan.  But he found he didn’t like being in debt, nor did he enjoy supplying the bank with his financial records each year.  So when it came time to expand again, Sokoloff saved up as much cash as he could so he could cover the cost all at once.  That resulted in a lower price tag because “you can get contractors to work a better deal if you are willing to pay cash when they finish the job,” he says.  But the most important thing to plan for, says Sokoloff, is for not everything to go as planned.  “Realistically, there will always be things that end up taking longer than you think,” he says.  “Even when you plan out everything six months in advance, something will always delay the operation, whether it’s nuances of the inspection process or certain building materials not being available.  The biggest lesson is to be patient with all of these factors.”

Maximize your existing location.  “Bigger is not always better,” Hoffmann warns.  “You really need to look at what you’re already offering and be maxing out what you’ve already got.”  Even when it seems like your store is bursting at the seams, “it’s amazing how you can find room,” she points out, by cleaning out the back room or using sales data to identify and remove slow sellers.  In Nelson’s case, expanding his flagship Dean’s Natural Food Market wasn’t simply about creating more space for existing offerings, but also branching out into new services.  Because many natural retailers’ center-store product lines are under fire thanks to conventional retailers’ forays into natural products, Nelson decided to go in the other direction, making room for peripheral offerings such as a juice bar.  “We identified something that Wegmans and Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s don’t do, which is fresh juice,” he explains.  Foodservice is an exciting peripheral to consider while expanding, but it’s a move that shouldn’t be taken lightly, warns Caffery.  “The minute you step into foodservice, you are stepping into a new arena,” he says.  From ingredient prep to menu pricing to marketing considerations, the operation is more like a restaurant than grocery store.  “Unless you have a foodservice background, you should have a manager who understands that world,” Caffery says.

Enjoy the results.  Yes, a store expansion can be a trying experience.  But for Caffery, once the dust settled, the results paid off.  “Nothing’s more rewarding than when you make that expansion and your customers walk in the door at the grand opening and are so excited for you,” he says.  “It has been so worth it.”

Joel Warner has written for Wired, Businessweek, Grantland, Slate, Westword and many other publications.  He is co-author of The Humor Code, a global scientific exploration of what makes things funny, to by published by Simon & Schuster in early 2014.

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by swilliams on Jul 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Earth Month 2013 brought more than 800 pledges from eco-minded shoppers who took the pledge to love bulk foods for Earth Month! We could not be happier with everyone's support and enthusiasm for bulk foods, and hope that support and love for bulk foods will continue in the future. A big congratulations to our winners in the weekly drawings as well:

  • Debbie from Fort Calhoun, NE
  • Ruby from Foothill Ranch, CA
  • Brandy from Nottingham, MD
  • Angela from Savona, NY

Looking forward to celebrating Earth Month 2014! Stay tuned for additional information regarding next year's Love Bulk campaign.

 

Cheers,

The Bulk is Green Council

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by swilliams on Jul 3, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Bulk is Green Council Launches Food Retailer Recruitment for National Bulk Foods Week 2013

Third annual commemoration encourages consumers cut down on food waste

 

Portland, Ore. – June 11, 2013 – The Bulk is Green Council (BIG), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying foods from bulk bins, is once again seeking retail partners for its annual National Bulk Foods Week. This year’s week, now in it’s third year, will take place October 13-19 at grocery stores and co-ops across the country.

 

This year BIG hopes to draw particular attention to the role buying from the bulk bins can play in helping to reduce consumer food waste. A recent press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that roughly 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the United States goes to waste. Further, the EPA reports more food goes into landfills nationwide than any other single material in municipal solid waste, and in 2010 alone Americans generated more than 34 million tons of food waste.

 

However, according to a recent study conducted by the Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC), the main reason consumers shop the bulk foods aisle is for the ability to buy the exact quantity needed. As a result, consumers said bulk items were less likely than packaged items to be thrown away, which results in less food waste. National Bulk Foods Week is one way BIG encourages more consumers to be conscious of the waste they produce.


“Pre-packaged foods tend to create high amounts of food waste, and many consumers are already aware that they can cut down on that waste by buying smaller quantities in the bulk section of their grocery store,” said Todd Kluger, vice president of sales and marketing at
Lundberg Family Farms, a founding BIG member. “With our third annual National Bulk Foods Week, we are looking to partner with retailers to raise even more awareness around this important benefit.”
 

During National Bulk Foods Week the companies that comprise BIG offer special discounts on select natural and organic bulk foods to retailers that can then be passed along to consumers. Participating food retailers are also provided complimentary promotional signage and other materials to promote the benefits of foods from bulk bins and attract new bulk foods shoppers. In addition, participating stores will be entered in the running for BIG’s annual industry recognition – the 2013 Bulk Foods Retailer of the Year. In 2012, more than 800 retailers joined BIG in celebrating National Bulk Foods Week.

The benefits of buying in bulk also go beyond just cutting down food waste. The PSU FILC study found organic bulk foods on average are 89% less expensive than their organic packaged counterparts. Buying from the bulk bins also greatly reduces the amount of packaging waste that ends up in landfills.

 

BIG recently wrapped up a highly successful Love Bulk Foods for Earth Month campaign, which encouraged consumers to take a pledge to purchase bulk foods once a week during Earth Month in an effort to get them excited about the many environmental benefits offered by foods from bulk bins. In all, some 800 consumers took the digital pledge.

 

Food retailers interested in signing up to participate in National Bulk Foods Week 2013 can do so at BulkisGreen.org.

 

More information about National Bulk Foods Week, the PSU FILC bulk foods study and the benefits of buying foods from the bulk bins can also be found at www.bulkisgreen.org. 

 

ABOUT BULK IS GREEN COUNCIL

Bulk is Green Council is an organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying natural and organic in bulk. Founded in 2008, the council serves as a research and advocacy group, conducting and publishing studies on industry trends and offering educational tools and resources online. The board includes industry leaders Attune Foods, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Lundberg Family Farms, SunRidge Farms and Trade Fixtures. Additional information is available at BulkisGreen.org.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Ashley Sherrick

Koopman Ostbo Marketing Communications

P: 503.517.6955

ashley@koopmanostbo.com

 

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by swilliams on Mar 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Portland, Ore. - To help celebrate Earth Month this April, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is challenging consumers to take the pledge to “Love Bulk Foods” (by bulk foods we mean foods bought from the bulk bins of a grocery store) for the chance to win a gift basket filled with everything needed to help create a natural and organic pantry filled with eco-friendly bulk foods.

Eco-conscious consumers interested in taking the pledge should visit the Love Bulk Foods pledge page on the BIG website and sign a digital pledge to purchase bulk foods once a week during Earth Month. Pledgers automatically will be entered in a drawing where winners will be selected once a week at random and receive their very own Earth Month starter kit filled with everything needed to help create a natural and organic pantry and get on board with bulk foods.

Why should consumers take BIG’s pledge to Love Bulk Foods? According to a recent Bulk Foods Study conducted by Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC), buying natural and organic bulk foods from the bulk bins provide significant benefits to the environment – chief among them being a substantial amount of packaging waste diverted from landfills. What better time than Earth Month for consumers excited about bulk foods and their environmental benefits?

Check out the above infographic that shows why the earth loves bulk foods.

ABOUT BULK IS GREEN COUNCIL
The Bulk is Green Council is an organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying in bulk. Founded in 2008, the council serves as a research and advocacy group, promoting industry trends and offering educational tools and resources online. BIG also sponsors National Bulk Foods Week each October. The board includes industry leaders Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Hain Celestial, Lundberg Family Farms, SunRidge Farms and Trade Fixtures. Additional information is available at BulkIsGreen.org.

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by Admin on Nov 19, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Portland, Ore. – November 19, 2012 –The Bulk is Green Council (BIG), together with natural food stores and grocery stores across the country recently participated in the 2012 National Bulk Foods Week to celebrate and educate consumers about the eco-friendly and affordable benefits of buying natural and organic foods in bulk.


Approximately 800 stores signed up to participate in this weeklong event held October 14-20, 2012 by decorating their stores, promoting through literature, offering samples and discounts on bulk food products, and telling the Bulk is Green story.


“Bulk food aisles have been around for decades, and the countless environmental and money-saving benefits are becoming more well-known among shoppers,” said Clint Landis, chief marketing officer for Frontier Natural Products Co-Op and a founding member of the Bulk is Green Council.  “Still, for those who have never shopped in bulk, National Bulk Foods Week provides the perfect opportunity to discover the environmental and economic benefits of doing so.”


Governors of fifteen other states also formally recognized the benefits of shopping the bulk foods aisle by proclaiming Oct. 14-20, 2012, National Bulk Foods Week in their states.


The Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is proud to announce Market of Choice #7 as the winner of the "2012 Bulk Retailer of the Year" award.  Market of Choice #7, located in Corvallis, OR showed great creativity in promoting National Bulk Foods Week.  To help celebrate and promote all the good reasons to buy in bulk, Amanda C., Bulk Buyer for Market of Choice #7 decorated her bulk section very well, brought in 15 local bulk food suppliers for sampling and also brought in waste management personnel to talk about the packaging savings associated with bulk foods.  Congratulations Market of Choice #7 and Amanda!


The Bulk is Green (BIG) Council would like to thank everyone who participated, and encourages you to participate in the 2013 National Bulk Foods Week to be held in October.


For more information about the benefits of buying in bulk, please visit www.bulkisgreen.org.

ABOUT BULK IS GREEN COUNCIL

The Bulk is Green (BIG) Council is an organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying natural and organic in bulk. Founded in 2008, the council serves as a research and advocacy group, conducting and publishing studies on industry trends and offering educational tools and resources online. The board includes industry leaders Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Hain Celestial, Lundberg Family Farms, SunRidge Farms and Trade Fixtures. Additional information is available at BulkisGreen.org.

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by swilliams on Oct 10, 2012 at 4:39 PM
Filed in News

It’s Time to Celebrate the Benefits of Buying in Bulk!
National Bulk Foods Week is October 14-20 

Portland, Ore. – September 13, 2012 – Imagine if there were an aisle in the grocery store where many everyday foods cost an average of 89% less than the same foods found on different aisles in the same store. Now imagine if simply buying those foods not only saved money, but also helped saved the planet, as well. If such an aisle existed, wouldn’t that be cause for celebration? 

That’s exactly the idea behind National Bulk Foods Week 2012. The Bulk is Green Council (BIG), a national non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the economical and environmental benefits of buying natural and organic foods in bulk, is again partnering with retailers across the country to celebrate the wonders of the bulk foods aisle with the second annual National Bulk Foods Week. This year’s celebration will take place October 14-20. 

“Bulk foods offer something for everyone, and National Bulk Foods week is all about celebrating those benefits” said Ellen Bouchard, bulk category manager at Frontier Natural Products Co-op and a BIG Council member. “Whether shoppers are new to buying in bulk or are frequent bulk buyers, fun and savings will be experienced by all who venture down the bulk foods aisle.” 

Shoppers this year have even further incentive to take part in National Bulk Foods Week. Earlier in the year, the Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center conducted a first-of-its-kind study in the United States to quantify the benefits of buying natural and organic foods in bulk. The study concluded that natural and organic bulk foods across all categories are on average 89 percent less expensive than their packaged counterparts. The study also found buying bulk foods significantly reduces the amount of product packaging going into landfills, and that the ability to purchase from bulk bins only the amount needed cuts down on food waste. 

Retailers participating in National Bulk Foods Week do their part during the week by offering specials and discounts on select bulk food items in addition to the everyday savings shoppers can expect from buying in bulk. In 2011, more than 600 retailers nationwide joined BIG in celebrating National Bulk Foods Week, and BIG expects to top that number this year. Shoppers can find the updated list of participating retailers at bulkisgreen.org. 

Also in 2011, governors in 13 states proclaimed National Bulk Foods Week in their respective states. So far this year, governors in Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Vermont have issued proclamations, with additional states joining the cause each day. Shoppers can check to see if their state has issued a National Bulk Foods Week proclamation at bulkisgreen.org.

Please also visit bulkisgreen.org for more information in general about BIG, National Bulk Foods Week, the PSU 2012 bulk foods study and the many benefits of buying in bulk.                                                                                                                      

Media Contact:
Ashley Sherrick
Koopman Ostbo
ashley@koopmanostbo.com
P: 503.517.6955

ABOUT BULK IS GREEN COUNCILThe Bulk is Green Council is a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the economical and environmental benefits of buying natural and organic foods in bulk. Founded in 2008, the council serves as a research and advocacy group, conducting and publishing studies on industry trends and offering educational tools and resources online. The board includes industry leaders Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, The Hain-Celestial Group, Lundberg Family Farms, SunRidge Farms and Trade Fixtures. Additional information is available at bulkisgreen.org 

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by Admin on Mar 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM
Filed in News

Research findings show compelling reasons for shoppers to buy in bulk

Portland, Ore. – March 12, 2012 – A shopper can save an average of 89 percent by purchasing natural and organic foods in the bulk foods aisle of a grocery store, according to a recent study conducted by the Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) on behalf of The Bulk is Green Council (BIG). The study, the first of its kind in the United States, also found tangible environmental benefits of buying in bulk.

"We’ve long touted shopping in the bulk foods aisle as the most economical and environmentally friendly way to shop, and now we have the data to back up those claims," said Todd Kluger, a founding member of BIG and vice president of marketing at Lundberg Family Farms. "Even better, with more and more U.S. grocery stores now offering a larger selection of bulk foods, these benefits are widely accessible."

For the study, researchers set out in the fall of 2011 to examine three main areas: Cost comparisons (to packaged counterparts), environmental impact and consumer attitudes toward buying in bulk.

To arrive at the overall average cost savings of 89 percent, researchers made cost comparisons between organic bulk foods and organic packaged foods in a number of key categories, including coffee and tea, nut butters, flour and grains, dried fruit, spices, beans, pasta and confectionaries. The percentage of savings when buying in bulk differed from category to category, but averaging the savings across all categories resulted in an average of 89 percent lower costs compared to packaged counterparts.

The researchers also evaluated the environmental advantages of buying in bulk and found several. Chief among them is reducing the amount of product packaging going into landfills. According to the findings, if coffee-drinking Americans purchased all of their coffee in bulk for one year, nearly 240 million pounds of foil packaging would be saved from entering a landfill. If

Americans purchased all their almonds in bulk for one year, 72 million pounds of waste would be saved from a landfill.

Food manufacturers also realize economical and environmental benefits by producing bulk foods, the study concluded. The findings show that a food company choosing to market bulk foods versus packaged foods can save an average of 54 percent on material and delivery costs since more pallets of bulk food can be packed onto delivery trucks.

Researchers found that consumers who do buy in bulk are aware of the benefits of doing so. The study’s findings show the main reason consumers shop the bulk foods aisle is for the ability to buy the exact quantity needed. As a result, consumers said bulk items were less likely than packaged items to be thrown away, which results in less food waste. Consumers also cited cost savings and the environmental aspect of using less packaging as the other top reasons for buying bulk.

The Food Industry Leadership Center began in 1994 as a partnership between Portland State University's School of Business Administration and the food industry. Located at Portland State University’s campus in Portland, Ore., the FILC works to promote education, leadership and research critical to the field and has come to be known as a world-class resource for recruiting and developing top management talent specific to the food industry.

"Our researchers worked diligently in the field to gather data and talk to consumers, and they conducted hours and hours of analyses," said Dr. Tom Gillpatrick, executive director of the Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center. "Many claims have been made regarding the benefits of buying in bulk, but there have been few quantifiable statistics to support those claims. We’re excited to be the first research team in the United States to substantiate that buying in bulk does offer tangible environmental and economical benefits."

BIG has published the high-level findings from the study on its website, www.BulkIsGreen.org.

ABOUT BULK IS GREEN COUNCIL

The Bulk is Green Council is an organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying in bulk. Founded in 2008, the council serves as a research and advocacy group, promoting industry trends and offering educational tools and resources online. BIG also sponsors National Bulk Foods Week each October. The board includes industry leaders Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Hain Celestial, Lundberg Family Farms, SunRidge Farms and Trade Fixtures. Additional information is available at BulkIsGreen.org.

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To view the top level findings from the bulk foods study please see here: 2012 Portland State University / Bulk Is Green Study on Bulk Foods

by Admin on Dec 14, 2011 at 1:41 PM
Filed in

Thanks to all of you who participated and supported National Bulk Week 2011, there were nearly 750 stores nationwide. 

BIG will be awarding $100 to the selected charity of the store showing the greatest support for the week.  After reviewing a number of submitted photos, the council determined Richard's Foodporuim of Sarasota Florida as the events strongest supporter.  Richard's created additional signage communicating the attributes of buying in bulk, ran sales promotions on all bulk products and set up a sampling station for customers to try new bulk items.  A very close second place was Whole Foods - Capitola in Northern California, who also had additional signage and sales promotions. 

Thanks for you support; we look forward to seeing your entries next year!

 

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by Admin on Nov 17, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Filed in News


Lori Corbin
More: Bio, E-mail, Facebook, Home Page, News Team


Download KABC's video report here: SaveMoneyBuyingBulk.flv Nov 17.flv (9.75 mb) 

Download the Green is Good internet radio program: ClintLandis.mp3 (24.25 mb) 



LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Food prices are soaring and they aren't coming down anytime soon.  Is buying bulk food in bins a solution? Todd Kluger of the Bulk Is Green Council said consumers can see 10 to 65 percent in savings in they buy in bulk. Shopper Diana Woods said she finds items such as rice, oatmeal, bulgur and dates cheaper in the bin.  So does Bob Griffin, who came for quinoa.

"I can get it in bulk, and I can get it at a good price," said Griffin.

"Spices are actually a really great value. When you're buying spices, you have to buy the whole jar of it or whole jar of bay leaves when you may only need one bay leaf," said Kluger. Pasadena's Whole Foods didn't carry bin spices, but it has plenty of variety. Kluger also said singles to big families can buy just a little or a lot.  Some of the best bin bargains are grains and legumes.  Comparing bins to major store brands, we found long-grain brown rice a dollar cheaper per pound in bulk versus packaged.  The lentils were 80 cents cheaper at the bin. Bulk black beans cost 99 cents per pound, compared to packaged at $2.19.

Oatmeal's a bin bargain at 69 cents per pound compared to $2.92 if you opt for a name brand. But not all foods are cheaper.

"Coffee is a decent value, but a lot of times now, packaged coffee is around the same price as bulk coffee," said Kluger.  Breakfast Blend bin coffee was $12.99 per pound, as opposed to generic packaged blend, which was $10.65 per pound.  Peanuts and trail mix, both packaged or bulk, cost about the same.

But beyond cash, bin foods can help save the planet.

"The WRAP study looked at bulk bin shopping versus package shopping and found that you had a 96 percent environmental savings of reduction of packaging," said Kluger.  When you think about the environment, you also might think about food safety. There's the issue of germs for bins where people can open up and put their hands in. You might consider only using those bins with foods that you could cook.

 

(Copyright ©2011 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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