One day, we’ll consume 100% bulk.

Published on 03/06/19

With over 200 grocery stores specialising in bulk selling, France is the number 1 country globally in this sector.
It’s not surprising then that the big food chains are developing slowly but steadily.
As part of the Sustainable Development Week, #oneday takes you to meet the brand names who are making the biggest mark.

DAY BY DAY, the market leader.

DAY BY DAY is a 100% French concept launched in 2013 by 2 partners who quickly recognised the importance of proximity in the customer journey. They made it their central focus.
Physical proximity of the shop, first of all, because every Day by Day outlet of around 60m2 is located in a town centre. Proximity to products, followed by a mainly national strategy.


Rice, pasta, shampoo and tomorrow alcohol...

The brand offers around 750 store cupboard items, as opposed to refrigerated items, which include fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese. Here you find dry fruits, confectionary, grains, condiments and teas as well as cleaning products and even dry dog and cat food.
Customers are mainly curious (50-60% of shop browsers), but also committed to making bulk a real alternative to “all packaged” and overconsumption.


Objective: broaden access to bulk.

Despite this growth, bulk is still seen as elitist, expensive and limiting. Yet, when you compare like for like, bulk is less expensive because packaging can represent up to 40% of the product price.
To lift the constraints, stakeholders are getting organised. Some allow their customers to come and buy their meat, cheese, deli items and even fish in their own containers.
Others are developing new ideas.


Drive Tout Nu

DRIVE TOUT NU lets you come and collect your “zero waste” shopping, having ordered via its website.
The brand prepares each order in reusable jars or cloth bags. The principle is the “reverse deposit”: the client pays for the containers with their first order, but receives 10c per container brought back off the next order. At the moment it is only open in Toulouse, but DRIVE TOUT NU hopes to export the concept throughout France.
But bulk is not just about food.


Fill up, re-use, repeat.

This is what AROMA-ZONE is doing. It’s a French network of 130 boutiques that offers several hundred ingredients and over 2,000 recipes to make your own cosmetic products thereby skipping packaged goods all together. Another player, FILLGOOD.CO, is a website based in San Francisco which was launched by Frenchwoman Stéphanie Régni. The idea is to do away definitively with plastic and use refillable glass jars. The site offers to deliver soap, shampoo and detergent in glass containers. Containers are collected, cleaned and refilled before being redistributed. The idea has been really successful and has even added a physical shop, the Refill Corner, which allows customers to come to the store to refill their containers, avoiding the delivery cost (which is around 15% of the total price).


Raising awareness

Admittedly bulk only represents 10% of turnover for supermarkets, hypermarkets and specialist organic networks, yet interest is growing. The proof is there – in 2016 the sector, driven by DAY BY DAY, set up an association called Réseau Vrac (Bulk Network). It brings together no less than 650 professionals (franchises, independents and suppliers of products and services). Its aim: advance the cause, structure the market, allow legislation around certain products to develop (such as AOP (protected designation of origin), where the label brings with it the obligation to package in the zone where the product has been produced).


And what about the brand names?

It’s not easy to promote their brand name in a market that essentially “undresses” them. Yet, like organic, the trend is being driven by consumer habits (the recent launch of LOOP, the zero waste e-commerce site is a good illustration).

They are right to jump on…for fear of being surpassed or even overtaken by these new market players.

Photo credit : Day by Day