BU$TING the Co-op Price Myth

It’s no secret to regular Co-op shoppers that our retail pricing has come down significantly as we made changes to the Co-op’s Membership Benefit package in October 2011.

But just how do WE compare? Amazingly well indeed!

The Test!

On February 8 2013, we compared our pricing on a total of 226 randomly selected items spanning all Departments (Grocery, Bulk, Deli and Wellness) with that of a corporate grocery store in our area.  All the products we compared were identical, except our certified organic eggs and meats (which come from different sources).

The Results!

The Kootenay Co-op was less expensive or equal to the competition on 168 items – and more expensive on 58 items.  Here are some other ways to look at the results:

The Co-op’s pricing was less expensive or equal to the competition on 74.3% of products audited

If you bought one of each of these 226 items* you would spend $1696.80 at the Co-op versus $1962.92 at the competition.  *For purposes of this comparison we used 1 kg of all bulk items, 100 g of cheese sold by weight, and 275 g of beef and chicken.

The dollar difference on the above items is a savings at the Co-op of $266.12 or 17.7%!

Every Department analyzed resulted in significant savings at the Co-op but the Department with the biggest difference was our Bulk Foods section:

On 34 identical items (all certified organic except rice sticks and nutritional yeast) we came out a whopping 84.9% less expensive than the competition – and had only a single item where we were more expensive.  We’ll fix that one item; don’t worry!

What This Means

Considering the purchasing power of corporate grocery stores versus our little stand-alone, member-owned Co-operative this is an incredibly impressive feat!  We don’t have access to the mass-quantity, direct purchasing available to chain stores, but as we grow, we are closing the gap – and as we close that gap we pass those savings on to our member-owners.

The Co-op can’t compete on things like generic brands of white bread, cola, and deodorant, or conventional apples –because we don’t sell these products!  But on Natural Food and Wellness products, we are confident that we are leaders in both selection and pricing.

But Price Isn’t Everything…

Keeping Wealth Local

Purchasing from the Co-op means more money staying in your community. Our profits are either returned to you, the member-owners, in the form of a patronage return or they are reinvested in the store so that we can serve our mission more and better. There is no billionaire owner or far-flung shareholders reaping profits. The Co-op: You own it!

Helping Local Farms & Suppliers Succeed

We’ve supported local farmers, food processors and vendors since our inception and theirs.  We make sure we pay our local suppliers a fair price for their products. Last year we returned approximately $2M to local and regional suppliers in exchange for their goods. We work closely with our 100+ local suppliers and farmers to help price and promote their products and lend our time and skills to a wide variety of local agricultural organisations to promote food security and the local economy (see pages 8, 26-27 for examples).

Raising the Bar on Food Quality

We make purchasing decisions based on solid ethics.  Our well-established Buying Guidelines send strong messages to producers, suppliers and distributors that we require a high level of integrity in the products that we sell.

Responding to Member Input

The proof is in the pudding (and in the toothpaste, quinoa, rice, apple, chocolate, chips, eggs, etc.) and we want to know how our attention to both pricing and values works for you.

We would like to hear from you. What are your experiences of looking for the best possible pricing on products we carry? Where do you think we need to improve?

-Joe Karthein, Operations Manager, On the Table, Spring Issue 2013

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