For price-conscious and waste-averse shoppers, the bulk aisle ought to be the go-to spot of any grocery store. It's where you can buy just as much as you need, with minimal packaging, while saving money to boot – right?
But as The Salt reported yesterday, the advantages of buying bulk can be hard to quantify. In research from Portland State University and in our own survey of two Washington, D.C., grocery stores, actual savings on bulk foods varied widely. At best, bulk foods were massively discounted – but at worst, they were more expensive than packaged versions.
While buying foods like coffee and spices in bulk can bring savings as high as 77 percent, some products, like nuts and seeds, were actually more expensive in the bulk aisle. Almonds were the worst offender at more than double the packaged price.
"We were surprised by that, because ... we found that the number one thing people buy in bulk is nuts and seeds," study author Anna Abatzoglou tells The Salt.