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.

Groups vary widely in their approach to splitting sacks, packs and cases. Part of this may be due to external factors – for example, some wholesale suppliers offer greater flexibility than others to order part cases. Thus, while jars, tins and bottles tend to come from manufacturers in standard quantities of 6 or 12, wholesalers vary between requiring customers to buy whole case quantities, allowing half case orders and allowing ‘singles’.

Beyond this, buying clubs themselves decide how far they want to go down the path of organising a ‘splits and shares’ process that can allow multiple members to each take up fractions of the minimum amount a wholesaler will supply. At its fullest, this means that a humble case of baked beans could easily split six different ways within a group, while ten or more households might all benefit from a single sack of rice. As an example, Pop-Up Wholefoods in Dublin 1 aims to give its members exactly this kind of flexibility.

Although having a ‘splits and shares’ process calls for more developed administrative systems and greater input of shared labour for tasks like weighing out, it will offer group members a lot more flexibility and can help build a more collaborative and social dynamic to the buying club experience.

About this site

This site aims to encourage and support the setting up of further bulk buying clubs and small food co-ops in Ireland by sharing the experience of individuals who have operated a ‘pop-up wholefoods’ model over a number of years.