A bulk buying club provides a way for a people to get organic wholefoods cheaply by pooling their funds to purchase in bulk from a wholesaler or producer, rather than paying retail prices. In many of these informal food co-ops, all members are also volunteer workers who organise collectively and democratically to source products in line with their values.

Close-up image of brown rice

Although they may differ in a variety of ways, there are a few basic principles at the heart of most groups:

  • Buying is ‘pre-order, pre-pay’ – members plan their food needs in advance, choosing from a listing and pay up-front. These funds are then used to place an order on behalf of the group as a whole.
  • Operating with very low overheads and on a non-profit basis – with no full-time premises or paid staff, prices can be kept close to wholesale rates, far below shop prices.
  • Keeping things simple and staying small-scale – a group can easily run with just a few member households who are already connected. This is why existing groups can be difficult to find out about – they don’t have much need to publicise and promote themselves.

Starting a new group is fairly straightforward and our two page ‘basics’ briefing will give a flavour. Good ways to plan and prepare are explained in the booklet Starting and Sustaining a Bulk Buying Club – A ‘How To’ Guide, a free PDF download that accompanies this website.

To get a feel for how an active buying group works, you can check out the FAQ for the Pop-Up Wholefoods co-op, based in Dublin 1.