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 Mar 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM
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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,


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


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
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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
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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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by Admin on Sep 27, 2011 at 11:04 AM
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The Bulk is Green National Bulk Foods week (October 16-22) is less than a month away, and already many retailers have stepped up to participate.  
To find out who is participating, we have put together a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

If any of these retailers are in your area, stop by, shop, and say thank you for supporting National Bulk Foods week! 

BIG List 2011.xls (97.00 kb)

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by Admin on Sep 26, 2011 at 10:59 AM
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PORTLAND, Ore.—The Bulk is Green Council (BIG), a national organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of shopping in the bulk organic and natural foods aisle, is issuing an invitation for retailers to take part in National Bulk Foods Week 2011. National Bulk Foods Week is scheduled for Oct.16 to 22, 2011, with the goal of educating consumers about the eco-friendly and affordable nature of buying in bulk. Members of BIG are also offering special incentives and price promotions for retailers to be a part of this fun and free promotional opportunity.   More...

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by Admin on Sep 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM
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The following states have issued proclamations declaring National Bulk Foods Week.  



-New Hampshire
-Rhode Island


by Admin on Aug 10, 2011 at 10:00 AM
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Catherine Conway,
London, England UK -- 8/10/2011

Unpackaged is an organic refill grocery in London, UK. Since we opened in 2007, our aim has been to sell fantastic products and help our customers shop more sustainably by offering most of our products in refills. We encourage our customers to bring their own packaging to refill and make it easy for them to do so.

Rather than have a separate refill section within a conventional grocery store, we take refill as our central concept and are working towards being able to offer every product we sell as a refill.
Our policy is to sell high quality, organic & environmentally sustainable products, sourced seasonally & direct from local producers. Working directly with local producers means we can extend our philosophy of packaging reuse both up and down the supply chain.
I see our refill concept holistically – it is about how we deliver food from producer to customer, from farm to fork, taking into account all the social, economic & environmental impacts in the journey. I truly believe that Unpackaged is a sustainable, competitive answer to some of the key modern challenges our food supply chain faces.
So, in a nutshell, this is why we do what we do:

1. C0²e reduction from less packaging - There is an average 48% reduction in emissions each time a product is refilled from Unpackaged  compared to the same product bought in traditional packaging. This figure will only increase as we grow and improve our systems.

2. The reduction of material waste from landfill & incineration – Taking an average shopping basket of 10 products refilled across the year, 118 pieces of packaging are saved from landfill . This represents a significant environmental saving, as well as a cost saving to local government who are under strict reduction targets to reduce landfill waste due to increasing European legislation. Failure to meet these targets will result in financial penalties passed on to householders through increased local taxes.

3. Less food waste as customers can buy just the amount they want - 8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year, which equates to roughly 1/3 of the food that consumers buy – a criminal waste. It is also the equivalent of 20 million tonnes of C0² emissions every year , we show that small changes to consumers’ buying habits can have big environmental impacts.

4. Positive behaviour change - We help our customers consume more sustainably. 60% of customers said that since they started shopping with Unpackaged they do not buy over-packaged products in other shops . We know that the simple act of thinking about bringing containers down to refill helps customers change their behaviour in a positive way, and positive associations are more likely to lead to lasting change because consumers can see the benefits in their own lives.

5. Economic benefits across the supply chain:
    Producers: Producers gain better margins on bulk products
    Customers: Save money by not spending on packaging (the annual extra packaging cost for the average UK family has been estimated at £470 ; by buying only what they need rather wasting
    food, a family can save an additional £480 )
    The Community: Research carried out into the sustainability of  SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises) and the health of local communities shows that the act of reusing and refilling
    products made locally keeps money in the local economy . Local multiplier effects show that £1 spent with a local supplier is worth £1.76 to the local economy whereas the community only
    benefits from 36p if it is spent with a chain store . The more local shops we can encourage, the better for each community - socially, economically & environmentally.

However, there is always a danger when people, or organisations, think theirs is the only way – we fully recognise the need for a diverse range of solutions to the complex problem of food related climate change. We’re part of the solution and just trying to be the best at what we do.

Unpackaged will celebrate its fourth birthday in November 2011, testament to our fantastic and committed customers who share our vision for a more sustainable world, and a nice chat over the counter as they shop!

We’re brimming with ideas of how to replicate our model to make it available to many more communities and increase our social impact.

Our vision is a world with less wasteful packaging and we’re achieving it one customer at a time!

[1] Unpackaged Giraffe Innovation Greenhouse Gas Assessment 2008
[2] Internal estimation
[4] Unpackaged 1st anniversary customer survey
[5] Women’s Institute Packaging Campaign
[6] Ibid WRAP
[7] Hawken, Paul. The Ecology of Commerce p144 - 145

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by Admin on Mar 4, 2011 at 4:57 PM
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March 4, 2011

Dear Valued Retailer,

In recognition of National Bulk Foods Week, October 16-22, 2011, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), is calling on respected food retailers such as yourself to take part in a fun and free promotional opportunity.  Founded in 2008, BIG is a research and advocacy organization dedicated to increasing consumer, retailer and grocer awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of buying natural and organic food in the bulk aisle of the grocery store.

BIG would like to provide you signage and other collateral material to use in your store during National Bulk Foods Week.  This material will highlight the environmental and economic benefits of shopping in the bulk foods aisle.  If you opt to take part, we’ll also include your store name (and images – if you send them) in the public relation efforts we use to secure media coverage about the promotion at no charge.  Last year’s National Bulk Foods Day promotion was mentioned in trade media such Progressive Grocer and consumer media such as, to name a few.  Additionally, you’ll get your store in the running for BIG’s newest industry recognition – the 2011 Best Bulk Food Retailer of the Year.

In a tough economy, your customers are paying close attention to what they buy at the grocery store.  Shopping in bulk offers them the opportunity to save anywhere from 35 to 96 percent, reduce food waste by buying only a pinch or a pound, and decrease their carbon footprint by consuming limited packaging.  Additional information and resources are available at

What:  National Bulk Foods Week
When:  Saturday, October 16th through Saturday, October 22nd
Where: Grocery stores and co-ops throughout the United States
We look forward to hearing back from you and we hope you will participate in our National Bulk Foods Week promotion!  For more information, please contact me as listed below.

Best Regards,
Bart McKnight
On behalf of the Bulk is Green Council
[email protected]


by Admin on Jan 3, 2011 at 2:27 PM
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Portland, Ore. – January 3, 2011 – As the world continues to recover from the global economic crisis, customers continue to seek and explore value added, money saving opportunities.  Here are some articles from this past year which illustrate why buying bulk foods is not only good for the environment, but also good for you.  It was a busy, and successful 2010, and we look forward to bringing more information to the table in 2011 on the benefits of buying bulk foods!

Are you Ready for Rising Food Prices
by Amy Ahlberg, Nov. 2010

The Beauty of Buying In Bulk 
by Alison Ashton, Oct. 2010

Eating Healthy Foods Can Save You Money 
by Emily Main, Oct. 2010

5 Reasons to Bulk Up On Food Purchases
by Trey Granger, Sep. 2010

Bulk is Green: Save 96% Shopping Bulk Foods
by Really Natural, Sep. 2010

Video Honors National Bulk Foods Day
by Natural Products Marketplace, Aug. 2010


by Admin on Aug 24, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Portland, Ore. – August 18, 2010 – Appealing to the soccer mom and the penny-pinching couple alike, shopping in the bulk foods aisle has quickly become one of 2010’s hottest trends, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Celebrating National Bulk Foods Day on October 23 and this boom in bulk shopping, the Bulk is Green Council is proud to announce the launch of the first of a series of two YouTube videos that follow everyday shoppers on a trip to their neighborhood grocery store, documenting how they save time and money while shopping green.

"Budgets are tight and people are thinking twice about how far their dollar takes them," said Bart McKnight, founding council member and Category Manager for Trade Fixtures.  "We decided to document the experiences of real people to better understand how Americans are getting creative with their purchasing decisions, and we think that these videos will teach people a thing or two about to how to make cost-effective, eco-friendly choices at the grocery store."

The first YouTube video, which can be viewed here, follows a 40-something man and a mom and her son on their quest to gather the 11 ingredients needed to make a wholesome natural snack.  The man shops in the regular aisles of the grocery store, while the mom and child shop exclusively in the bulk foods aisle.  The drastic difference in total cost and time required of each is then compared.

The second video in the series follows a different set of shoppers who are prepping a gourmet dinner for a group of friends, and will be launched in time for the first-ever National Bulk Foods Day on October 23.

"The videos reveal some interesting information about how people shop for food today," said Clint Landis, founding member of the Bulk is Green Council and Chief Marketing Officer for
Frontier Natural Products Co-Op.  "We suspected that the mother and child shopping natural in bulk would save money – anywhere from 30 to 96 percent – but we were surprised to see the little boy had fun selecting all the ingredients from one aisle.  He actually taught his mom how to shop in bulk, while the single man shopping in the regular aisles had to run all around the store to find what he needed and ended up pretty frustrated."

The Bulk is Green Council launched the YouTube campaign as part of an ongoing effort to educate people on the environmental and economic benefits of shopping natural and organic in bulk.  Founded in 2008, the council includes industry leaders Hain Celestial Group, SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Trade Fixtures, and Lundberg Family Farms.  The Bulk is Green Council invites YouTube viewers to share their own experiences shopping in bulk by posting their story in the video’s comments section at, or by contacting the council at



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 Hain Celestial, SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Trade Fixtures, and Lundberg Family Farms.  Additional information is available at