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 Jan 2, 2009 at 8:37 AM
Filed in News

Little Rock, AR – Jan. 2, 2009 – Food cost is estimated to have risen 12% last year and forecasts call for price increases to continue through 2009, making it the third year in a row that food prices rose faster than the overall U.S. inflation rate – which is now at is highest since 1990. Meanwhile one segment of the food industry, bulk foods, has historically delivered the goods to consumers for 15% to 35% less than traditional packaged goods. That difference is causing more consumers to purchase foods in bulk – and more retailers to add bulk food selections in their stores.

While many foods can be and are sold in bulk at grocery stores, the most common items are beans, grains, candy, coffee, cereals, pastas, spices and other dry foods. Recently some liquid foods such as honey and olive oil have entered the bulk food segment of the industry.

Bulk foods are sold without a printed package, and packaging is a significant cost that’s passed on to the food consumer. Using a box of breakfast cereal as an example, there is first the cost of the cardboard for that box, then the cost to print it. Transportation cost to get the cereal to the store is disproportionately expensive too, because the cereal settles in its box, rendering a truckload of packaged cereal to technically be only about 75% full of cereal, the other 25% being unused space inside the boxes.

Bulk foods, are delivered to the store in voluminous boxes or bags, not individual packages. The bulk food is then deposited into a transparent dispensing system that allows the consumer to get as much or as little as he wants. Stores provide bags for bulk foods, but they are usually inexpensive and unprinted.

According to the Bulk Is Green Council, the bulk food industry is growing at a rate of 15% a year, making it one of the hottest trends in the grocery business. The Bulk Is Green Council is a national non-profit organization advocating bulk foods for environmental and economic reasons.

“Not only is bulk food less expensive than its packaged counterpart, there is less waste because consumers can buy the precise quantity they want. They are the ones dispensing the product,” said Jim Clemons, the council’s executive director. “There is also a better assurance of quality. Bulk food doesn’t hide behind a printed package. Consumers can see the actual product and gauge its quality before they buy it. Buying bulk is more environmentally responsible, too,” he said, “because there is less transportation for distribution and less packaging hits the landfill.”

“In our company alone, we are installing bulk merchandising systems in about 50 new stores a month,” said Scott Johnson, president of Trade Fixtures, a manufacturer of bulk food merchandising systems. “That’s up from last year, and from the year before. We’re seeing a definite trend.”

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