Debunking the Co-op Price Myth


On January 21, 2012 the pricing on a total of 90 grocery and bulk items, picked at random, were compared between the Kootenay Co-op and a corporate competitor (Store B).  We are excited to share these results with you!

Over the years, we have had members comment on the Co-op’s pricing, indicating that they shop elsewhere to get lower pricing on products they could be buying here. We take that concern very seriously. Our mission, after all, is to bring our members high-quality natural foods at affordable prices. And we believe that spending food dollars at a community-owned cooperative has added value for our local economy. So we’ve been working very hard to develop operational systems and member benefits that bring members the best pricing wherever possible. Recently, we decided to see if we are delivering on this commitment. Here are some preliminary findings!

Bulk Foods – Better Priced!

18 randomly-selected, certified organic bulk items were price compared and the results were astounding! If you had purchased ½ kg of each product at the Kootenay Co-op you would have spent $82.25, compared with $140.90 for identical products at Store B. The Co-op was less expensive on 17 out of 18 bulk items!

Bulk Items we compared:

Apricots, Brown Basmati Rice, Camino Chocolate Chips, Flame Raisins, Flax Seeds, Crystallized Ginger, Long Grain Brown Rice, Dried Mango, Oats, Quinoa, Short Grain Brown Rice, Whole Wheat Flour, Sultana Raisins, Sunflower Seeds, Thompson Raisins, White Basmati Rice, White Flour and Wild Rice.

Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding!  We compared pricing on 18 randomly selected certified organic bulk items and the results were incredible – you will save shopping at the Co-op.

Grocery Items- Better Priced!

On the same day, 72 randomly-selected grocery items were compared. The Kootenay Co-op came out less expensive on 46 items, the same price on 6, and more expensive on 20.  If you had purchased one of each of these 72 items at the Kootenay Co-op you would have spent $491.51.  At Store B you would have spent $530.05 for those same items – a difference of 7.3%!

Items compared were identical with the following exceptions:

  • Certified organic ground beef at the Co-op is local as opposed to non-local at the competitor.
  • Different brands of Organic Maple Syrup, Milk, Cream and Eggs were compared.

The Kootenay Co-op pledge:

• We work hard to bring our members the best possible pricing.

• We support local vendors with lower margins on their products compared with non-local products.

• We are clear and honest with our pricing. We do not mislead members by using “2 for 1” offers, nor do we price with a few extremely low priced “loss leaders”. Loss leaders give consumers the impression of storewide lower pricing, when in fact profits must then be recouped through higher regular prices on other products.

Saving on Price, Investing in Health

But it is not just price: the Kootenay Co-op sells so much bulk that you can be assured that we always have the freshest and highest quality product in our bins.  We make our purchasing decisions not just based on price – but on quality, origin, and ethics.

– Joe, Grocery Manager, On the Table, April 2012