“We serve our members and community and strengthen our local food system by providing the highest quality, local, sustainable, and organic products at reasonable prices, in a welcoming environment, with exemplary customer service.”  Kootenay Co-op Mission Statement

Kootenay Co-op Buying Guidelines

Updated September 24, 2019

The Kootenay Co-op selects products that are healthy for our bodies, our communities, and the Earth. We prioritize products that meet the following standards:

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • True Local
  • Fair Trade
  • Sustainably Sourced Seafood
  • Cruelty Free
  • Humanely Raised
  • Free-from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives
  • Sourced from companies with ethical business practices

About Our Buying Committee

One thing that differentiates the Co-op from other grocery stores is our Buying Committee. The purpose of the Buying Committee is to ensure that we live up to our mission of providing the highest quality, local, sustainable and organic products at reasonable prices. The Buying Committee regularly reviews our existing product selection as well as proposed new items. This process ensures we make thoughtful, intentional decisions about every item we offer in the store.

The Buying Committee meets 1 to 2 times per month and is made up of nine voting members, and some non-voting members. The voting members include the General Manager, Marketing Manager, Sales & Merchandising Manager, and either the Manager or Buyer for each of our six revenue departments – Grocery/Bulk, Produce, Wellness, Cheese, Butcher, and Food Services. Other Co-op staff actively participate in the Buying Committee, but do not vote on actual products.

What about products that do not meet the standards above?

In some circumstances, when there is significant demand and insufficient supply, we consider products that do not meet the standards above. These circumstances may include foods that meet special dietary considerations such as gluten-free or FODMAP. Sometimes they include a unique product or category, such as charcuterie. Other times, factors include affordability, variety and specific member or customer demand. In each of these instances, our Buying Committee thoroughly researches and reviews the product and votes to determine if we should carry it in the store. The research process may include things like investigating food additives, speaking directly with producers and distributors about supply chain details, searching for alternative products that meet our standards, and more.

How can I shop according to my own personal standards at the Co-op?

We do our best to serve more than 11,000 active members at the Co-op with various dietary needs and preferences. We are excited to help you make the best possible shopping decisions for your personal needs. Please check out one of our handy guides. You may also speak with one of our many talented and informed Staff, Department Managers or the General Manager.

If you have a question or comment about an existing or proposed product at the Co-op, please speak up – we are always happy to hear from you! Contact our Customer Service team and they will pass your inquiry to the appropriate staff member.

Department Specific Guidelines

To better serve our members, some of our departments have more specific guidelines. Read about them below.

Produce Department

In 2020, our Produce Department will be 100% certified organic or wildcrafted. As of Fall 2019, we have one local supplier who is not certified organic who plans to retire next year. Wildcrafted produce includes a variety of wild mushrooms. We love working with certified organic True Local farms, and these organic farms are able to meet all our needs during the growing season.  To learn more about why we choose Certified Organic, click here. To contact our Produce Department, call 250-354-4077 x 122.

Butcher Shop

Guidelines in process, please contact our Butcher Shop for more information.


Guidelines in process, please contact our Deli for more information.


Guidelines in process, please contact our Grocery Department for more information.


Guidelines in process, please contact our Wellness Department for more information.

Food Service & Cafe

Guidelines in process please contact our Food Services Department for more information.