Bulk Foods Help Consumers Stretch Food Bucks: Study
A recent study conducted by the Bulk Is Green Council confirms what the Little Rock, Ark.-based advocacy group is seeking to advance with consumers: that retail prices of bulk foods vs. their packaged counterparts are an average of 35 percent lower. Indeed, bulk foods were lower for all of the 16 foods compared, with savings ranging from 3 percent to 96 percent. Additionally, the majority of bulk foods compared in the study were organic while their packaged counterparts were often not.
Conducted at multiple grocery stores in three metropolitan markets, the study measured average prices with suggested retail prices of a leading national food distributor of both bulk and packaged foods.
The advocacy organization, which is charged with helping consumers, food manufacturers and grocers learn about the environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods, says bulk foods offer consumers a variety of shopping and sustainable advantages, including:
--Packaging-free products, as packaging drove up the price of the average product evaluated in the study. Packaged foods were generally more competitive in price in situations where minimal packaging is the norm (i.e. beans, rice and nuts).
--Enabling the consumer to purchase as much or as little of a product he wants, without paying a penalty for a small quantity. This is especially meaningful when a recipe calls for a small amount of an ingredient seldom used by that consumer.
--Environmental benefits, because the foods are sold without a package, resulting in a reduction in deforestation and the use of petrochemicals for the manufacture of paper, plastic, ink and cardboard.
The study found that bulk herbs and spices offered the greatest savings. The most dramatic difference was bay leaves, with bulk savings of 96 percent, meaning that on average, packaged bay leaves cost 24 times more than bulk bay leaves. Almost as dramatic was thyme, with bulk savings of 87 percent.
More information about bulk foods can be found at www.bulkisgreen.org.