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An average French resident throws out 20 kg – 30 kg of food a year – 7 kg of which is still in its wrapping. Of the 7.1 million tons of food wasted in France each year, 67% is binned by consumers, 15% by restaurants and 11% by shops. As France plans to halve the amount of food waste by 2025, zero waste grocery stores in the country are removing all forms of unnecessary waste from their business models – instead of charging for plastic bags they are asking customers to bring their own reusable containers to purchase food items. “Day By Day” is one such store but with a twist – it also helps reduce the amount of food waste by selling exactly what a consumer will use.
According to Day By Day’s website:
“Day By Day brings you quality at the best price, regardless of the amount you need. We are committed in the fight against food waste by allowing each consumer to buy only the right amount, the one he really needs, day after day. Our offer, covering all the needs of daily life with a fair depth, gives consumers the full command of their purchases. Long live the loose!”
Alice Bigorgne, Day By Day’s owner, estimates that the loose products she sells cost about 40% less than their conventional counterparts, despite being of higher quality.
“At Day By Day, all 450 products are sold loose. You have to bring your own containers or use those donated by other shoppers for re-use. You can buy precisely the quantity of food that you want. If you need only a single spoonful of coffee or two cinnamon sticks, I’ll sell it to you,” Bigorgne told La Voix du Nord.
Launched in 2013 in Meudon, Day By day is the first grocery chain in bulk and provides quantities on demand and without packaging. As people’s interest in reducing waste and the zero-waste lifestyle grew, so does the demand for bulk.
But what’s a grocery store in bulk?
“Products sold without packaging, to help the planet and the wallet,” she said adding, “Day By Day did not invent anything. Our grandparents were like that. They would take a jar to the corner store to have it filled with however much of a particular ingredient they needed or could afford. It just brings back a concept that allows to pay more attention to the environment, and consume just for the day.”
At Day By Day, brown rice is 2.1 Euros a kg—it sells for half a Euro more at chain supermarket Auchan. Organic oatmeal is 2.85 Euros a kg at Day by Day but sells for 4.04 Euros a kg elsewhere.
Day by Day co-owner Didier Onraita told TakePart:
“Over several years, we’ve noticed a constant decrease in consumers going to supermarkets. They are looking to shop closer to home, but they also want to know more about the products that they purchase, and because of the economic crisis, they look to save money, particularly in food. They also want to consume more responsibly, pollute less, and limit waste. All these factors made us want to launch a store concept that would be close, sell quality products in just the right quantity and without packaging.”
When the demand for bulk grows, the number of franchise locations grows too. The chain now counts nine locations spread out through northern and western France and the Paris suburbs. It received 1,000 franchise requests in 2015. It plans to open 25 more stores by the end of 2016 and aims to have 100 locations by 2018.
Is it that easy for a green business model to work? No, but it is worth the effort – and it does reap profits. The biggest challenge Day by Day overcame was enrolling suppliers of popular products to sell huge amounts of goods without the packaging. Onraita explained:
“It’s easy to source packages of 150 grams for items but much harder to find supplies in bags of 5, 10, or 20 kilograms. It takes a lot of convincing to get suppliers to sell products to be resold in bulk and at a price point that will satisfy the consumer.”
To solve the supply problem, the company invested in a warehouse and hired someone to manage the inventory. The next challenge was to build a clientele. Cleanliness gave the shoppers the impetus to embrace Day By Day. Onraita added:
“A lot of consumers doubt the cleanliness of the containers, which is why we systematically dismantle, clean, and dry each container before refilling it. It represents a cost of labor that we had to include in our business model.”
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