Around Australia, and the world, Organic Buyers Groups and Organic Co-ops are experiencing a surge in popularity. More and more people are seeking local, ethical and environmentally friendly alternatives to big businesses.
This is fueled by a growing concern for where our food comes from and the toll conventional farming takes on the environment. Organic Buyers Groups and Co-ops work hard to ensure quality organic and biodynamic produce is affordable and accessible.
What is a Buyers Group?
Starting a Buyers Group is a great way for individuals to get access to organic produce at wholesale prices. A Buyers Group is a collection of like minded people joining together to buy in bulk. What this actually looks like varies greatly, depending on the group.
We work with countless Buyers Groups throughout NSW. Some are highly structured, some are loose groups of locals interested in organics, and others are families banding together. Most Buyers Groups tend to have members who all live close to each other, or who can all access a central location to pick up produce.
What is a Co-Op?
Like Buyers Groups, Co-Ops take many different shapes and sizes. Generally speaking, an organic Co-Op is a member owned and controlled business that operates to benefit these members. Members democratically decide the direction and operations of the business by voting.
There are different types of cooperatives, depending on whether their members are customers (retail co-ops), staff (worker co-ops), or suppliers (producer co-ops).
A common model for a lot of organic Co-Ops is to have a retail space open to the public with members getting a discount. These retail spaces are generally run by volunteers from the Co-Op.
All co-ops are based on the following principles, taken from the international Co-operative Alliance:
- Voluntary and Open Membership: Co-ops are voluntary organisations, open to anyone who agrees with the terms of membership.
- Democratically Controlled: Co-ops are controlled by their members, who actively participate in decision making and policy setting. Any elected officials within the co-op are accountable to the members.
- Autonomous and Independent: Co-ops are independent, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they ever enter into agreements with other organisations, they do it in a way that retains their autonomy.
- Education, Training, and Information: Co-ops provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, employees and local community.
- Cooperation: Co-ops serve their members most effectively by working with other local, national, regional and international organisations.
- Community Minded: Cooperatives work for the sustainable development and improvement of their communities.
How Back to Eden Supports Buyers Groups and Co-Ops
Here at Back to Eden, we love Buyers Groups and Co-ops and are eager to see them succeed.
Here’s the ways we support the groups that buy from us:
- Access to Wholesale prices: Acting as a Buyer’s Group or Co-Op gives you access to Back To Eden’s wholesale prices. These prices are not available to the public and are significantly lower than retail prices.
- Wednesday and Thursday Trading: We run our market on Wednesday and Thursday mornings so you can get your produce ready for the weekend. The produce for these markets is as fresh as it gets, arriving early Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
- Always High Quality and Fresh: When it comes to organic produce, nothing’s more important than freshness and quality. We only pack you the freshest fruit and veg, generally the morning it comes into our warehouse.
- Free Delivery: We offer free delivery for orders of $1,000 and over. This doesn’t just have to be fresh produce and can also include grocery products.
- More than Produce: As well as our fruit and vegetables we offer a curated and niche range of organic grocery items.
If you are an existing group looking to order from us you can get in contact with us here.
Starting a Buyers Group or Co-op
Has all this talk of Buyers Groups and Co-ops got you thinking of forming your own? A great starting point is the How to start a Co-Op ebook, put together by our friends at the Blue mountains Co-Op.
The Blue Mountains Food Co-operative Limited is one of the largest, and longest running, Co-ops in the country. As of 2021, the Co-op had 2500 members and an annual turnover of over $4 million.