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A recent poll of grocers showed that bulk food sales are up an average of 10 percent at food retailer of all sizes, driven by consumer demand, according to the Little Rock, Ark.-based Bulk Is Green Council.
At San Antonio-based HEB, which started adding bulk sections about five years ago, 60 of the chain’s locations now feature bulk departments, and last year, same-store sales of bulk grew 12 percent, noted the company’ business development manager, Yvan Cournoyer.
Meanwhile, Green Fields Market, a brand-new that just opened in the Stone Oak area of San Antonio, began business with about 15,000 square feet of retail space and over 400 items in bulk. “We started our store from scratch and bulk foods were a big part of our plans from the very beginning,” said Sandra Feldtmose who handles community relations for the grocer.
Currently, almost any food can be delivered from its source to the consumer in bulk form. From a sustainability standpoint, bulk foods help reduce deforestation and the use of petrochemicals to manufacture of paper, plastic, ink and cardboard. The lack of packaging also lessens the impact on landfills, where food packaging is now estimated to be 15 percent of the total mass.
While the USDA estimates that food packaging contributes an average of 8 percent to the retail cost of food, packaged foods cost more to transport as well. A recent study by the Bulk Is Green Council found that the price of bulk foods averages 35 percent less their packaged counterparts. Additionally, a consumer can purchase any amount of a bulk product, rather than a fixed quantity dictated by a manufacturer’s packaging.
More information about bulk foods is available at www.bulkisgreen.org.