The main aim of the Belfast Food Co-op is to transition a buying group into a food cooperative seeking to make a viable alternative in the North Belfast and wider Belfast communities.
A co-operative is a model which does not have shareholders who profit from sales, there is an equal partnership between members, and any profits made go back into the business. All members have equal shares and equal say in decision making.
Co-operative business models have the ability to help the local community and its members by creating a viable alternative that can function efficiently in the existing broken food system. We wanted to create a place where people in the community can buy organic food at an affordable price that is not available anywhere else. This gives communities a better chance to choose food that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment.
Who buys your goods?
We would describe the people who come along to the stall at Women's TEC in North Belfast as socially aware, they are actively looking for alternative places to purchase low waste organic food. They support organic farming, community projects, and social initiatives. Overall, they want to be a part of the systematic change that they see happening around them. We are always inviting more people to join us, so please visit our website.
Have you seen an increased interest in sustainable food after the pandemic?
People are more aware that they have choices in the food system and they see that they deserve unconditional access to healthy food. We want to use the Co-op to help more people make the ‘right’ choice and bring them into our community. We have lots of people who are prepared to work with us but the pandemic has affected how people want to help. We can adjust in these challenging times, that's why now is the best opportunity for change.
What is your best seller?
In December, organic Peruvian cacao sold out really quickly. It was an exclusive product and people really loved it. In January we stocked rarely sourced zapatista coffee from the Chiapas region in Mexico, which was very popular. We then marketed solidarity mocha blend, which is a combination of the both. Year round, organic plant milks and organic bulk foods, like lentils, pulses, and chickpeas, are always popular.