Monthly Archives for: March 2012

Buying Organic in Bulk Saves Consumers an Average of 89%

A shopper can save an average of 89 percent by purchasing natural and organic foods in the bulk foods aisle of a grocery store, according to a new study.

The study by Portland State University’s Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC), the first of its kind in the United States, examines three main areas related to buying in bulk: cost comparisons (to packaged counterparts), environmental impact and consumer attitudes toward buying in bulk. The study was conducted on behalf of the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), based in Portland, Ore.

Researchers made cost comparisons between organic bulk foods and organic packaged foods in a number of key categories, including coffee and tea, nut butters, flour and grains, dried fruit, spices, beans, pasta and confectionaries. 

The percentage of savings when buying in bulk differed from category to category, but averaging the savings across all categories resulted in an average of 89 percent lower costs compared to packaged counterparts.

Chief among the environmental advantages of buying in bulk is reducing the amount of product packaging going into landfills. According to the study, if coffee-drinking Americans purchased all of their coffee in bulk for one year, nearly 240 million pounds of foil packaging would be saved from entering a landfill. If Americans purchased all their almonds in bulk for one year, 72 million pounds of waste would be saved from a landfill, according to the study.

The study also found that food manufacturers choosing to market bulk foods versus packaged foods can save an average of 54 percent on material and delivery costs since more pallets of bulk food can be packed onto delivery trucks.

Researchers found that consumers who do buy in bulk are aware of the benefits of doing so. The study’s findings show the main reason consumers shop the bulk foods aisle is for the ability to buy the exact quantity needed.

As a result, consumers said bulk items were less likely than packaged items to be thrown away, which results in less food waste. Consumers also cited cost savings and the environmental aspect of using less packaging as the other top reasons for buying bulk.

“We’ve long touted shopping in the bulk foods aisle as the most economical and environmentally friendly way to shop, and now we have the data to back up those claims,” said Todd Kluger, a founding member of BIG and vice president of marketing at Lundberg Family Farms, the top U.S. organic rice producer. “Even better, with more and more U.S. grocery stores now offering a larger selection of bulk foods, these benefits are widely accessible.”

“Many claims have been made regarding the benefits of buying in bulk, but there have been few quantifiable statistics to support those claims,” said Tom Gillpatrick, executive director of FILC. “We’re excited to be the first research team in the United States to substantiate that buying in bulk does offer tangible environmental and economical benefits.”

To check out the findings from the study, click here.

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