People’s Cooperative Supermarkets

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Rebecca Roberts:

"A wave of co-operative food models has swept across Europe and the US in recent years. One well-known example is The People’s Supermarket, located in London. The People’s Supermarket carries food and products that you would find in a traditional supermarket, but there are no BOGOFs or other discount deals to encourage over-consumption and food waste. Instead, the only bargaining going on is verbal – people are encouraged to barter for foods, especially if they’re about to pass their ‘use by’ date.

Their vision is to create a commercially sustainable social enterprise that achieves its growth targets whilst prioritising community development and cohesion. As a co-operative, it is run by the community for the community; it operates on accountability, interaction and a chance to provide the community just what they need. In return for 4 hours of volunteering a month, it pays members £25 annually and gives them 20% off purchases.

Another example is Brighton’s hiSbe, a new independent social supermarket standing up for ‘how it should be’. Their principles include: go local, choose seasonal, protect nature, support ethical, think welfare, save fish, end waste and avoid processed food. The store attempts to be transparent about every single element of the food chain. It cares where the food comes from, it trades fairly with producers, it stocks responsibly (using the Ethical Consumer Index), it shows where your money goes, and it refuses to throw out food that can still be eaten. By providing common, recognisable products that are accessible to people on average budgets and ordinary diets, they prove that being savvy with your food choices is not, and should not be, an act for those with extra money or time." (

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