HomeProgressBulk foods, in Italy the demand exists but remains unexpressed

Bulk foods, in Italy the demand exists but remains unexpressed

Buying food in bulk in Italy is still not a widespread habit. The reason seems to lie above all in the limited availability of points of sale organized for the sale of bulk or draft. Many consumers, in fact, declare themselves interested in using it, but little informed on how to do it. The trends emerges from a survey published on 26 April on economiacircolare.com.

Bulk foods, the propensity in Italy

The survey was organized as part of the information campaign 'But how much are you bulk?' together with the app Junker and Sfusitalia. The first allows you to know the nature of the packaging, by scanning the barcode, and the correct way of disposal. The second is an organization that promotes the purchase of food and other products in bulk or on tap, also using a search engine (still a little imprecise) to identify both shops specializing in this kind of sale and traditional ones with a corner dedicated to bulk.

From our website of economiacirculare.com the survey remained open for two months and collected 10.015 responses. The sample, mind you, was not selected to represent the generality of Italian consumers. It reflects the opinions of the readers of the magazine, already well oriented towards a sustainable lifestyle. However, it does provide important food for thought.

The responses to the survey

Stores that sell bulk products are still frequented by a minority, albeit a large one (43%), of people who mainly frequent shops with corner dedicated and, to a much lesser extent, establishments that exclusively offer unpacked products. The frequency of purchase is still low. One in 4 (25%) buys in bulk one or more times a week, around 40% do so once a month and 30% buy in bulk 'rarely'.

Almost six people out of 10 (57%), on the other hand, do not frequent shops that sell bulk products.

A very large majority, almost 84% of those who participated in the Survey and he doesn't frequent bulk shops, he would gladly do so.

Legumes and dried fruit

Groceries most purchased in bulk are legumes and dried fruit, cereals, wine, tea and herbal teas. Between not food on the other hand, laundry detergents and household and personal hygiene products dominate.

The reasons of the supporters

In Italy, the motivations of buyers of food and other bulk products are predominantly ethical

  • do not produce useless waste, in a vision wasteless,
  • calibrate the quantity of product to be purchased on real consumption and avoid waste,
  • support local shops.

More reasons alleged concern

  • the best quality of products, typical of shops specializing in bulk, mainly organic,
  • lower costs, thanks to savings on the price of packaging.
  • greater convenience in storing bulk products in the pantry.

The issues holding back the bulk

Who does not buy bulk, on the other hand, does so out of lack of opportunity or skepticism. The main reasons given are

  • the distance from the shops that offer these products (almost half say they do not find any in their municipality of residence),
  • the inability to find equipped points of sale (just under half of the sample).

The mistrust and laziness concern a minority, who prefer the considered packaged products

  • more hygienic and comfortable,
  • cheaper than the products sold in stores specializing in bulk,
  • of better quality.

Italy still in the rearguard

The promotion of the sale of unpackaged foods in Italy essentially remains a niche option. While in France 20% of large surfaces must be dedicated to bulk, in the Bel Paese there is only a small incentive (5 thousand euro contribution) for those who set up areas dedicated to sales packaging-free.

To make a difference, as always, will be the citizen-consumers. Reducing the environmental impact of your consumption (and the volume of waste to be disposed of) is also favored by law 1411/2019, the so-called Climate decree, which allows you to bring your own reusable containers from home to buy bulk food products in supermarkets.


Marta Strinati

Marta Strinati
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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

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