The key to a successful food co-op is providing high quality produce at an affordable price.
Your food co-op will therefore need to decide:
- what you want to sell i.e. the type of produce
- how you are going to sell it i.e. the type of outlet and
- where you are going to get it from, by finding a good supplier.
Most existing food co-ops either sell fruit and vegetables or wholefoods, such as rice, beans, nuts, and flour. This is because it much easier to buy these foods in bulk quantities and also to divide them up and redistribute them easily and safely. But you can decide to provide any type of food you choose, for example meat, dairy, preserves, or baked goods. Some food co-ops also supply other products in addition to food, for example environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
What you sell will determine how your food co-op will need to run. For example if you are only going to sell bulk wholefoods or dried goods then you may only need to run once a month, whereas if you want to supply fresh produce you will probably need to run at least once a week.
You may already have in mind the overall type of food you want to buy but you'll also need to decide the specific varieties and whether you are going to try to supply local, organic and/or fair-trade or just conventional produce.
What you decide to sell also depends on your customers and whether you have a particular target group in mind. For example older people may have very different tastes from a family with young children. Also customers from different ethnic origins may have very different preferences about what types of foods they would like to buy.