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A recent poll of grocers found that bulk foods have jumped in sales volume about 10 percent over the past 12 months. Further, organic foods, one of the mainstays of the bulk food category, have seen double-digit sales growth for several years, while total U.S. food sales have been growing in the range of just 2 percent to 4 percent annually.
For consumers, the reasons for this migration to bulk are many, and include price, freshness, overall quality, perceived health benefits, customized quantities and sustainability issues.
Although bulk foods have been featured for years in natural and organic food stores, conventional grocers are now increasingly adding bulk foods to their product mix. “We started adding bulk sections about five years ago,” said Yvan Cournoyer, business development manager for San Antonio-based HEB. “We have 275 stores in Texas, and 60 of them now have bulk departments. Every year, we add bulk departments to more stores. That’s because we see growth in bulk. Last year, same store sales of bulk were up 12 percent for us.”
Organic and natural food makers on the Little Rock, Ark.-based Bulk Is Green Council, which advocates bulk foods for their environmental and economic benefits, all tout increased penetration into conventional food stores. Another company represented on the council, a manufacturer of bulk food merchandising systems, says that half of its orders are now coming from conventional food stores.