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 Jul 1, 2009 at 5:22 PM
Filed in News

Little Rock, AR – July 1, 2009 – Bulk foods are an average of 35 percent lower in price, according to a recent study comparing retail prices of bulk foods and their packaged counterparts. Bulk foods were lower for all of the 16 foods compared, with savings ranging from 3 percent to 96 percent. Further, the majority of bulk foods compared in the study were organic varieties and their packaged counterparts were often not.

Bulk herbs and spices offered the greatest savings. The most dramatic difference was bay leaves with bulk savings of 96 percent – meaning, on average, packaged bay leaves cost 24 times more than bulk bay leaves. Almost as dramatic was thyme with bulk savings of 87 percent.

While the USDA estimates that packaging contributes an average of 8 percent to the retail cost of food, that percentage is no doubt higher for herbs and spices where a package often costs the food maker – and the consumer – more than its contents. The package costs more to transport as well. Packaged foods were generally more competitive in price in situations where minimal packaging is the norm, i.e. beans, rice and nuts.

The study was conducted at multiple grocery stores in three metropolitan markets. To reduce the impact of price aberrations from market to market, collected prices were then averaged with the suggested retail prices of a leading national food distributor of both bulk and packaged foods. Foods from both natural product and conventional stores were studied. When a store offered more than one brand of a specific product, the lowest-priced brand was used in the study.

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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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