The key to buying food stuff is negotiating with suppliers to purchase the goods you want at a good price. As a buyer it is your responsibility to shop around to find the best quality for your customers. This can be a challenge when buying perishable products such as fruit and vegetables.
Buying gets a lot easier when you have built up a list of suppliers which you can switch between. If you order in bulk you can often negotiate free delivery, which means you can consider suppliers further afield.
Many community food initiatives link with surplus food redistributors or use food sharing apps to reduce costs of buying perishable foods and/or to address the issue of food waste.
Where to find suppliers
Fruit and vegetable wholesalers
There are two main fruit and vegetable wholesalers which supply Scotland.
Their vans set off early every morning with fresh produce to retailers, processors and restaurants across Scotland. You don’t have to place a bulk order to use wholesale markets but you do have to be prepared to deal with suppliers who will prioritise the largest order that day.
Here are some ideas for rooting out locally produced food supplies in your area:
- Connect with local food producers using Nourish Scotland’s local food map
- Neighbourfood order local foods online and pick up from your local market
- Locavore is a social enterprise growing and supplying local produce in Glasgow
- The Open Food Network UK aims to link local producers with customers
- Buy Scottish flour and baking ingredients from Scotland the Bread
- Local community gardens or city farms may well have produce to sell, find them through Social Farms & Gardens: Scotland
Cash-and-carries can offer lower prices on many lines – see ‘Resources’ below to find your nearest one. You could also ask other local businesses in your area who they use. To make a purchase you may be asked to become a member or purchase a minimum amount.
Community Food Initiatives
Larger community food initiatives may even be able to supply you with food, for example:
- Edinburgh Community Food
- Community Food Initiatives North East
- Lanarkshire Community Food and Health Partnership
- East Lothian Roots & Fruits
If you’re looking for ethical and wholefoods, try a wholefood co-operative:
Surplus food suppliers
Surplus food from the food industry, supermarkets and catering establishments can be accessed through:
You could also contact local farmers and food producers and ask for any surplus.
Models for sharing surplus food locally
- Community Fridges are a model to share surplus food, supported by Hubbub and the Co-op
- Scottish Community Pantry Network aims to support the development of this surplus food model