How to run a food co-op or bulk buying group

Non-Ordering Groups

When members of a buying group don't place individual orders before purchasing, then it's the stock team who decide what gets ordered with suppliers. This can work well if members are consistent with their purchasing, or with groups large enough that individual buying patterns even out across the group.

Non-ordering groups operate like a market or a shop, with members picking and choosing from what's available. The stock team need to either be careful not to over-order, or otherwise have some other outlet for unsold produce.

This style of buying group can be more informal than pre-ordering groups. It's possible to not allocate everyone to set groups, but instead call on volunteers to help each week as they have the time. Lettuceshare has a roster system to allow members to pick which dates suit them to volunteer.

These groups still require the same number of committed people to keep them running, but members tend to self organise into the required roles. One extra role created by non-ordering groups is the On The Night Coordinator. This person makes sure there's enough volunteers to weigh produce, and has a good understanding of the set up and pack down instructions used by the group. This position is usually shared and rotated amongst a group of long term members.

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