The purpose of establishing buying guidelines is to provide clear direction for product buyers throughout the store.
Current and prospective products and ingredients are evaluated using the following criteria which is not presented in any particular order. Any one product need not necessarily fulfill every criteria. This criteria list represents an ideal; some criteria may not be attainable at any given time.
- Products may be discontinued or not picked up if it is found that they contravene our criteria, though this decision will be made by a buying committee.
- Products will be evaluated based on a review of their total environmental impact throughout the life cycle of the product.
- We will not sell any products provided through a Multi-level Marketing Organization.
- We will not carry conventional cigarettes, nor products completely unrelated to food, personal and home care needs unless so decided by a special buying committee.
- We will work to reduce our impact on non-renewable/limited resources and discourage over-harvesting practices through discontinuing relevant products and lobbying manufacturers.
- We require full disclosure of materials and processes.
- We will promote socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing practices through our buying decisions.
Criteria and Definitions:
Consistent delivery. Seasonal delivery should be restricted to produce and holiday-specific items. Ideally from a currently-used distributor. Raw materials/ingredients should be available year round.
- Bridge Product
To encourage new customers by being a consumer-friendly one-stop shop, we sometimes support products which look familiar to mainstream shoppers. These are often convenience foods such as Macaroni & Cheese Dinners and when identified as a bridge product, our buying standards may be slightly looser.
- Company Ethic
Ultimate and visible ownership - environmental and employee practices (fair wages & benefits and safe conditions); credibility and integrity of product and sales methods, including fair-trade and slavery-free.
A demand exists or can be created for a product. Generally we stock products that sell well but sometimes carry products that are unavailable elsewhere even if the demand is small but steady.
- Humane/Cruelty Free
Products from sustainably managed and humanely treated animals throughout the course of their life and death; full use of animal parts for products - ie. will not buy from companies where shark cartilage is removed and rest of shark is discarded; animal products not derived from animals subjected to factory farming practices; free of ingredients tested on animals. Beef, pork and chicken products will be "free range", "hormone free" or "grass fed". Eggs will be "free range", "free roaming" or "uncaged" where possible. Dairy Products will be free of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone). We will not carry veal, exotic meats nor foie gras.
Labels are to comply with government standards; for instance, correct weight, bilingual, best before date, company contact information.
To the best of our knowledge, products must comply with relevant government regulations and be legal for sale unless a Buyers' Committee decides that the government regulations are not in the best interests of our customers.
The more local the better e.g. Nelson - Kootenays - BC - Canada - U.S. - Mexico - South America etc. Preference given to local products provided our standards are met.
Preference given to certified organic, affidavit possible for local in the process of certification, then transitional (3rd year, 2nd year, 1st year), then unsprayed then non-organic as a last resort.
As minimal as possible. Preference for - no packaging (bulk), reusable, recycled, and locally recyclable materials. No styrofoam and wherever possible no non-recyclable materials.
Price should be affordable i.e. realistic and appropriate for the product and comparable to similar product. Buyers will seek out the lowest prices and work for deals with the Co-op's brokers and suppliers.
Taste, smell, appearance - should be appealing. All products must be produced in a certified kitchen. Clean ingredients: no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives etc. Simplicity of ingredient combinations. As unrefined as possible. Full disclosure required on the label.
Grown and processed using sensitive farming, shipping and manufacturing practices - low impact on the environment. Organically certified where possible, not over-harvested if wild. No genetically engineered organisms, no irradiated products, and not rBGH where possible.
- Wellness Products:
Wellness buyers need to be familiar with the general criteria. They will also adhere to the criteria specific to Wellness items - specifically body care and supplements.