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Brexit and stocking up

Bulk buying clubs in Ireland have few orders left before 31st October and the possibility of huge Brexit upheavals. Any return of import tariffs would particularly apply in the food sector because of the significant additional rates and restrictions the EU applies to ‘third countries’. Even moreso than usual, then, groups have every reason to plan ahead and stock up strategically.

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How many members is ‘enough’?

The idea of forming a bulk buying club may sound like it would involve recruiting lots of people, but that’s probably not the case. Two related pieces of advice shine through a range of published guides to running such a group:

  • Start small
  • If you can, start with people you already know
Continue reading “How many members is ‘enough’?”

Joining the zero waste club?

As today’s Irish Times highlights, a wave of Zero Waste shops and initiatives have sprouted around Ireland and Britain over the past two years, helped by popular campaigns against single-use plastics and a healthy media appetite for the topic. While many of the new initiatives have taken the form of small retail outlets, the bulk buying club model has also been adopted by those looking to go packaging-free, as with London’s Naked Larder.

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Don’t let ‘bulk’ put you off

If you live in a small house or apartment with limited storage, the idea of buying food in bulk may simply sound impractical. However, it’s important to understand that with a bulk buying club, bulk ordering is a collective process which doesn’t necessary mean that individual members and households each have to commit to large quantities. Thus, a group may be ordering 25kg sacks of rice or lentils while making it possible for members to benefit from simply taking a modest share, say of 1 or 2kg. In this way, everyone can benefit from the lowest possible cost per kilo but no-one is compelled to take more food than they can use or comfortably store.

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A welcome Brexit respite

A looming ‘hard Brexit’ during much of March threatened an abrupt end to trading relationships built up by buying clubs over many years. Since 2012, the pop-up wholefoods group in Dublin 1 has been ordering with Suma, Britain’s leading workers’ co-operative. However, they drew up their recent order under a shadow – the UK potentially crashing out of the EU soon after dispatch of what would be their 49th bulk shipment from the Yorkshire-based co-op. Thus, there was a serious chance it would have to be their last, amid the prospect of prohibitive tariffs and regulations kicking in from the end of the month.

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Co-operate to save in 2019

An old idea for a new year: co-operation.

The most compelling case for bulk buying clubs and food co-ops is the way they can cut the cost of organic food for those with a more limited budget. They’re a nifty way to curb plastic, too, and uniquely offer a way to combine both in a single initiative. Continue reading “Co-operate to save in 2019”

Naked Larder: a starting out story

Logo of the Naked Larder bulk buying clubThe wonderfully named Naked Larder bulk buying club in South London is the focus of an excellent blog for the Food Co-ops section of Sustain’s website.

Phili Denning, the founder of Naked Larder, has so far added six posts about her early steps with the project.  Continue reading “Naked Larder: a starting out story”

Small Co-ops Are Beautiful

Cover of the book 'Food Co-ops for Small Groups' by Tony VellelaOne of the most practical and useful guides written about running a bulk buying club was published many years ago under the title “Food Co-ops for Small Groups”. By ‘small’, author Tony Vellela explains that he means, potentially, just five or six people and not more than 30. Continue reading “Small Co-ops Are Beautiful”

Cooking up a conspiracy

“When a group of people want to buy food cheaply, but don’t want to pay rent or salaries or have a store and are all willing to work, they have a food conspiracy. Buying club and co-op are other names for this kind of organization, but they also apply to groups with paid managers, storefronts and profits.”

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