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Everyone’s a winner when it comes to buying in bulk: manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and the earth.
According to Melissa Breyer at TreeHugger, bulk purchasing may “require less overall transportation for delivery to consumers. There is much less packaging that needs to be produced and transported prior to being filled.” Not only does that benefit packaging manufacturers, but it’s also a win for the environment. Food management professionals who want to start stocking bulk products in their cafeterias, restaurants and student stores should check out these 12 recent trends and practices regarding bulk food.
GRAVITY-FED DISPENSERS MAKE BUYING IN BULK EASY
Gravity-fed dispensers encourage customers to shop. Instead of offering one-size-for-all bulk products in heavy boxes or bags, dispensers allow consumers to purchase as much (or as little) as they want. Melissa Kvidahl at health resource NewHope Network chatted with Bulk is Green Council leader Clint Landis, who says there are other benefits too. Unlike traditional dispensers, gravity-fed versions can “eliminate sanitary concerns and keep foods fresher because it’s constantly rotated and air exposure is kept to a minimum.”
BULK displays APPEAL TO CONSUMERS’ health & Social awareness
In 2018 consumers are further aligning all aspects of their lifestyle from social values to food consumption. Consumers today truly live by the old adage “you are what you eat” and matched with living at the speed of the internet has led to a huge trend in healthy, bulk snacks. Consumers and business owners alike are seeing the benefits of bulk with reduced food waste and food cost. Consumers feel like they are snacking responsibly and enjoy the variety from which they can mix and match based on their mood.
University cafeterias and stores are offering a place for customers to find unique snacks they can experiment with and eat on the go. Bulk displays lined with shelves of vibrant colored snack mixes from savory to sweet and everything in between are popping up in food service operations all over the globe.
It is not only universities that are following the trend, international brands and independent boutique style hotels are also jumping on board. Modeled after stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, these new Lobby style markets are offering guests the fresh food options they demand at prices everyone can afford. It’s the next evolution of grab ‘n’ go, with more variety and a down to earth feel.
POPULARITY (AND REVENUE) IS GROWING
Food management professionals who haven’t yet installed bulk dispensers may wish to do so. It’s a trend that is seeing a rise in popularity and demand. According to Markets and Markets, “the bulk segment is projected to grow at the highest rate during the [next five years]. Furthermore, increasing health-consciousness among consumers has led to an increased demand for health and wellness products, which is expected to fuel the demand for bulk snacks owing to the multiple health benefits associated with them.” The report expects that by 2021, the bulk food ingredients market will increase by more than four percent to $472.10 billion. This includes bakery, snacks and confectionary items.
BULK PACKAGING CAN BE REUSED
Shoppers are already used to bringing their own bags from home when grocery shopping. And retailers selling bulk foods encourage them to do just that, whether these are reusable containers or bags. According to Resourceful PDX, consumers “save 500 bags a year” when they use their own reusable bags.
In fact, with more cafeterias and markets stocking bulk foods and making use self-serve dispensers, consumers are seeing less packaging when buying food. One example of a store with these refill systems is Planet Organic, an environmentally-friendly store in London, reports Rebecca Byers at Trend Hunter. It actively encourages customers to reuse bags, boxes and other bulk packaging. Resourceful PDX says stores like Winco, Whole Foods, Sheridan’s and Fred Meyer also share that preference.
CONSUMERS CAN GET MORE THAN JUST FOOD IN BULK
Although Cook’n with Class is based in Paris, France, its writer Emily Dilling reports on a trend that has already migrated to the United States: selling more than just bulk food. Dilling writes that in Paris, there’s “an increased interest in cutting back on waste and packaging,” which has led to grocery stores selling alcohol, vinegars, oils and even cleaning products in bulk.