Holistic Living Q&A with The Source Bulk Foods
Paul Medeiros, co-founder and CEO of organic natural health and bulk food store, The Source Bulk Foods, escaped the corporate life to start the largest specialised bulk food retail store. Bulk food is as much about providing nutritious products as it is about embracing a zero waste mindset.
As more and more people are moving towards a holistic, wholesome way of living, we sit down with Paul Medeiros to get his take on the growing trend from a retail perspective.
Do you believe there is an opportunity this year for The Source Bulk Foods to offer new products for natural living?
We are continuously sourcing new, interesting, healthy products nationally and overseas. We also work closely with our manufacturers to develop new product. 2019 is definitely no different.
What were the top five products customers purchased in 2018 (food or supplements) at The Source Bulk Foods? Why do you think those products were so successful?
There was an overwhelming focus on our Aussie hand-rolled raw protein balls. We sold just more than 400,000 in total, peanut butter balls and hemp balls being the favourite. We also saw an enormous increase in our Aussie hemp product sales since the long-overdue decision to make hemp food products legal for human consumption. Natural Australian raw and organic almonds are always among the top five, Aussie macadamias and Aussie dried mango were a close fifth. It’s good to see Australian products so well supported, as this has always been our focus.
What products do you see consumers being attracted to in 2019 and why? What are your predictions on the top products for 2019?
There will be a substantial increase in the transition to vegan diets and lifestyle. Naturally we will see a bigger increase of vegan products, but I think there will be an increase in nut butter variations especially. Probiotics in powdered form that are shelf stable will also become more prominent. We are currently speaking with product developers to supply mid year. I also believe there will be an increase in fermented products.
What is The Source Bulk Foods doing to attract consumers who are passionate about natural living?
Our whole concept is about natural living – we began with an urgency to educate people about healthy food choices, non-processed foods, and offer healthier food alternatives to what is forced onto everyone by supermarkets. For example, all our honey is raw. It is still alive, so it may crystallise as nature intended, but it is still full of goodness and not just a sweetener like other pretend honeys that have come to light.
In your organisation, how do you describe this consumer?
Our customers are varied; we see our customer as anyone who has the ability to make a conscious choice.
How important is origin, sustainability and recycled packaging to this consumer?
Origin is crucial as you can see from our best-selling list. We employ a dedicated product ethics and sustainability specialist to ensure our products are not only sustainable, but also fair trade and ethical. As for recycled or recyclable packaging, our stance is that elimination of plastic, for example, is far better than recycling because the amount of energy and resources required to recycle are just as destructive to our environment. We have a dedicated employee and ongoing project to identify and rectify every one of our products that come in any form of non-compostable (not non-degradable as this only means the product breaks down into smaller pieces) packaging from our suppliers. We have a social responsibility to work with suppliers towards a 100 per cent compostable supply solution to our business and the industry as a whole
Do you see growth in protein powders and other smoothie products?
I am always amazed at the variations and blends of quality protein powders being created. I see an enormous growth in this sector.
Do you see growth in healthy convenience and snack products?
Yes I do. However, I also hope it is in the non-packaged (bulk) sector. Convenience, confectionery and snack products produce some of the highest levels of packaging waste. These categories, in our business, are continuously becoming healthier — for example, the elimination of sugar or transition to natural or fruit sugar content, or antioxidant 70-per-cent quality dark chocolate-coated nuts or dried fruit. We also encourage smaller portions.
Are Daigou shoppers important to The Source Bulk Foods stores?
Yes they are. China is one of the largest growing organic markets in the world. The focus on food-based supplements and superfoods is growing in China and this marketing channel is a great way to access this demand.
What are the most popular buzzwords you hear in The Source Bulk Foods?
It changes rapidly, but kefir is doing the rounds again. It seems gut health is somewhat of a focus term at the moment.
If there was one product you wish someone would invent what would it be?
From a product perspective, we are working on it as we speak. On another level, when someone invents a plastic vaporising tool, I will be extremely happy.
Do you see any evolving industry trends in this area?
Convenience, provenance and healthy living will drive business and industry towards complete “ecosystems” and platforms that will enable consumers not only to track every step of the product’s supply chain, but also “plug in” to automated kitchen systems that will select, prepare and cook based on your preferences. Another very large global trend that I believe will become the “norm” is the use of hemp and cannabis (non-THC) products for medicinal and nutritional purposes.
You can find more information and products from thesourcebulkfoods.com.au