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 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 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

by Admin on Apr 22, 2010 at 2:37 PM
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Bulk Is Green council wishes everyone a Happy Earth Day.  Remember bulk is a very easy, economical, and practical way that you can participate in saving resources in reducing your carbon footprint.

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by Admin on Apr 16, 2010 at 10:09 AM
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by Admin on Mar 6, 2010 at 3:13 PM
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PORTLAND, OR–Buying food in bulk is slated to be one of the biggest money-saving trends of 2010, according to the Bulk is Green Council (BIG). Dedicated to helping consumers, food manufacturers and grocers learn about the environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods, the BIG recently reported 2009 bulk food sales increased an estimated 15 percent over the previous year, with more than 1,000 retailers adding bulk food offerings nationwide. (more)


by Admin on Jul 1, 2009 at 5:22 PM
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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
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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
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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.