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

by Admin on May 26, 2009 at 5:22 PM
Filed in News

Sales outpacing industry. Value and selection cited.

Little Rock, AR – May 26, 2009 – A recent poll of grocers reveals that bulk foods, those sold without a printed package, have increased in sales volume about 10 percent over the past 12 months. Further, organic foods, one of the mainstays of the bulk food category have experienced double digit sales growth for several years, while total U.S. food sales have been growing in the range of just two to four percent a year.

From the perspective of consumers, the driving forces behind this migration to bulk are multi-faceted.

Memphis resident, Lauren Byer offered several reasons why she prefers bulk foods. “I buy all my spices in bulk,” she said, “then display them in my own decorative containers. The packages of mass distributed spices aren’t decorative, nor are their contents as fresh – and they almost always cost more than bulk. Bulk spices at my grocery are much fresher and brighter in color. If sealed in airtight containers, they stay fresh longer too.”

Byer also buys many staples in bulk. “With bulk products on hand,” she said, “I have a tendency to make meals that include whole ingredients versus eating processed food. It makes for a healthier and more flavorful diet.”

Mike Green, who lives in Austin, likes to buy in bulk “because quantities aren’t dictated by a package. Bulk allows me to purchase the amount I need,” he said. “I live alone, so I don’t need to buy a lot of any food. Besides, I like to try lots of different foods and, at the bulk section of my store, I can inexpensively buy very small quantities for my experiments.”

Both consumers cited health too.

“I don’t like to eat those prepared and chemically-induced fast dinner options,” Byer said.

“I especially like trail mixes and granolas,” Green said, “and most of the pre-packed stuff has too many ingredients, mostly preservatives, that I don’t want in my body.”

Byer also expressed environmental reasons for her preference of bulk foods. “Buying bulk saves vast amounts of resources,” she said. “Less packaging means less paper production and water usage, and a lot of packages simply can’t be recycled.”

For years, bulk foods have been a mainstay of grocery stores specializing in natural and organic foods. Now, with consumer demand increasing, conventional grocers are increasingly adding bulk foods to their product mix. Texas-based chain H-E-B stores is an example of that.

“We started adding bulk sections about five years ago,” said Yvan Cournoyer, business development manager for H-E-B. “We have 275 stores in Texas and 60 of them now have bulk departments. Every year, we add bulk departments to more stores. That’s because we see growth in bulk. Last year, same store sales of bulk were up 12% for us.”

This is good news for the Bulk Is Green Council, an organization advocating bulk foods for their environmental and economic benefits. Organic and natural food makers on the council all tout increased penetration into conventional food stores. Another company represented on the council, a manufacturer of bulk food merchandising systems, indicates that half of its orders are now coming from conventional food stores.

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by Admin on May 11, 2009 at 8:34 AM
Filed in News

Little Rock, AR – Mar. 11, 2009 – According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to rise another four percent in 2009. Yet even if prices were stable or going down, consumers’ ability to purchase food has definitely diminished in the ongoing recession. Meanwhile, there is money to be saved by buying bulk foods rather than their packaged counterparts.

Bulk foods are sold without a printed package. Today, almost any food can be delivered from its source to the consumer in bulk form – and historically, bulk foods, including organic and natural varieties, are priced lower than their packaged counterparts. Studies vary as to how much lower bulk foods are priced, but all agree that the savings are substantial. A national study recently conducted by the Waste & Resources Action Programme concluded savings of 30-60%. A study last month in Little Rock, Ark., revealed that bay leaves in bottled form were 26x higher in price than bay leaves in bulk form. That study compared the bulk variety at a natural foods store with the packaged variety at a conventional grocery. Both stores were part of national chains.

Another economic benefit of bulk foods is the consumer’s ability to purchase precisely the amount desired. Very small quantities of various ingredients can be purchased for a single recipe, reducing waste and saving space in the pantry. In bulk form, a very small quantity of a given ingredient costs the same per ounce as a much larger quantity.

Long a staple of natural and organic food stores, bulk foods are becoming a popular addition to the offering of conventional food stores.

“At one time, virtually all of our business came from natural and organic grocers, but that’s changing fast,” said Scott Johnson, president and CEO of Trade Fixtures, a manufacturer of bulk food merchandising systems. “Today, 50 percent of our systems are being installed at conventional food stores that are adding or enlarging bulk food departments.”

Johnson is a member of the Bulk Is Green Council, an advocacy organization to help consumers, food manufacturers and grocers learn about the environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods. Others in the council are Clint Landis of Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Sarah Galusha of the Hain Celestial Group, Morty Cohen of SunRidge Farms and Aaron Anker of GrandyOats.