New report shows growth potential for UK food co-ops and buying groups
17 January 2013
A new report from the Soil Association highlights the growth potential of food co-ops and buying groups to support access to affordable, ethical and sustainable produce. The report produced at the end of the Making Local Food Work, Big Lottery funded programme revealed over 400 enterprises were supported by the initiative with many opportunities for development across the UK.
This confirms consumers are keen to embrace new community food initiatives ensuring food is local, sustainable and affordable. Buying groups involve people who regularly get together to buy local and organic food. Groups vary greatly in size and by pooling buying power and ordering food in bulk, direct from farmers or suppliers, they buy good quality food at a more affordable price.
Speaking about the report, Traci Lewis, Project Manager at the Soil Association said; “Food co-ops and buying groups help support access to quality affordable food, they’re especially relevant where there are ‘food deserts’ or people don’t have any other options outside of the supermarket but want to access affordable local and organic produce. What’s inspiring about the report is it shows the commitment people are willing to make to ensure the success of initiatives like this. It requires people to work together with friends, colleagues or neighbours to shop differently, when supermarkets often are the easy option.
With the New Year ahead of us, many people will find now is a great time to try to change their shopping and eating habits. Food co-ops and buying groups are flexible and innovative and a range of different models can be easily adopted by farmers, institutions and consumers.”
The report also highlights some of the most interesting recent developments in the sector including new large scale buying groups and co-ops such as People’s Supermarket, a sustainable food cooperative in London and Real Food Exeter a community owned food store with over 300 members.
Successes in Europe also feature including Biocoop in France, a national organic distribution co-op with over 320 independently run Biocoop member shops and Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale network, Italy (GAS) a large scale buying group with over 700 member groups each with numbers varying between 10-300 families.
The full report can be found here Buying groups - A viable supermarket alternative? [pdf, 506kb]
For press enquiries contact the Soil Association press office:
Natasha Collins-Daniel, Press Office Manager – 0117 914 2448 / 07827 925380
- Making Local Food Work is a support programme for community food enterprises across England.
- See here for a selection of buying group case studies.