How to shop at a bulk food store

The growing number of bulk food stores in Western Australia is helping to open the door for more households to own their impact every time they shop.

Customer at the checkout of a bulkfood store

WHAT IS A BULK FOOD STORE?

Bulk food stores are places where you can buy many types of foods and ingredients with minimal packaging or without any packaging at all.

How it works

  • A supplier delivers produce to a shop in bulk – such as in a large bag, container or drum.
  • The product is displayed on the store floor in its original bag, container or drum, or is transferred to a dispenser. Common bulk store products include flour, grains, pulses, snacking foods such as nuts, chocolates and dried fruits, oils and vinegars, as well as household items like soap, dishwashing liquid and toiletries.
  • The shopper is able to choose exactly how much of a particular item they want or need as they shop and goods are weighed at the end to get a final price.

HOW TO BE A CONFIDENT BULK FOOD STORE SHOPPER

Customer talking to a shop assistant

Never be afraid to ask questions. Bulk food store staff are often passionate about helping you to make good choices.

  1. Do your research. Try to find a bulk food store near you so that the experience is seamless and fits easily into your daily routine. Most bulk food stores are generally located close to farmers markets and grocery stores so adding in a visit is rarely too far out of the way.
  2. Get prepared. Bulk food stores encourage you to bring your own jars and cloth or mesh bags. They will usually have paper bags available too.
  3. Make a list. Knowing which items you actually need will help to make your trip more structured and prevent you from over-buying.
  4. Tare your containers. If you BYO jars you’ll typically need to ask the cashier to measure and write down how much each container weighs before you start shopping. Most bulk food stores also like it if the jars are all the same weight, making it easier for both of you when it’s time to check out.
Shop assistant writing on a glass jar

If you bring your own jars and containers, the shop assistant will weigh them before you fill them

  1. Fill up. Load up your jars, containers, bottles and bags with package-free goodies. Some stores may ask you to write down product codes as you go to make the adding up process at the end quicker, so if you are unsure ask the cashier for guidance. A lot of stores are happy for you to sample products that you might not be sure about as you go.
  2. Weigh and pay. It really is as easy as that. And, of course, don’t forget your reusable shopping bags to carry all your full jars and containers home.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

  • Less plastic packaging means less waste!
  • As you’re only buying what you need you’ll hopefully reduce food waste
  • You get to try new and local products (and take note, bulk stores can be a mecca for chocolate lovers!)
  • You’ll be closer to the food chain and will likely become more aware of where your food is coming from
  • Your wallet will be happy – buying in bulk is generally cheaper than pre-packaged store-bought items
various filled bulk food bins

Bulk food stores are a great way to reduce the plastic waste associated with many household purchases.

THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

Go in with an open mind and get ready to have your shopping experience changed for good! The process can be daunting, but making a start is the most important part.

Customer filling a glass container at a bulk food store

Bulk food shopping can be a fun experience – learn, taste and own your impact as you shop.

Changing the way you do your shopping can be an adjustment. Take your time with the process, and remember that every little bit adds up!


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