Consumption & Production

Granel : buy food, not packaging


05 Dec 2012

Written by

Joan Marc


Following the steps of Effecorta in Italy and Unpackaged in the UK, Granel is the shop to go in Barcelona if you want to buy food, not packaging.

Granel (which means in bulk in Catalan and Castillian) opened the first shop in Vic only a year ago and in the space of only 12 months it has opened a new shop in Barcelona and in Eivissa in the Balearic Islands and there is lots of interests to open many others elsewhere.

In Granel one can buy any kind of cereal, dry fruit, spice, pasta, rice, honey, soap, oil, etc mostly in bulk. The only thing they don’t sell yet is fresh fruits, meat, fish and vegetables which in any case is better to buy directly from the market that one finds only 20m from the shop.

Freedom is also about being able to buy the amount you need

As you can see in the pictures the concept of the shop is very simple: just buy what you need  not what they want you to buy (minimum amount of 5gr). You choose if you want 20gr, 200gr or 2 kg according to what you plan to cook and what you can afford. In a normal market one can only choose between two or three sizes. Contrary to what many think the choice when buying in bulk is unlimited.

The customers of this shop range from environmentaly aware people who want to eat healthy and with little packaging to victims of the economic crisis in Spain with little resources that with this flexible system can buy more variety of things. I.e. for the price of 1kg of rice in a traditional supermarket, in Granel they can buy 250gr of rice, some herbs, a bit of olive oil, some dried tomatos and mushrooms, 250gr of muesli for breakfasts and somedry fruits such as locally sourced almonds…

Coming to Zero Waste the waste generation with this system is really low or zero: firstly by buying only what one needs this system saves lots of food wastage through better planning which is actually the main source of foodwaste (60% of food waste is caused by bad planning when shopping). Secondly the optional packaging offered by Granel is minimal and fully recyclable or compostable and one can bring along its own packaging to do proper Zero Waste shopping.

The vast majority of products are sourced locally and respecting the seasons. There are products such as pepper and other spicies that need to come from abroad because they are not produced in Spain but the majority come from less than 80km around the shop.

When leaving the shop I heard a couple of children who had bought a handful of dry plums –lot healthier than sweets- and with a happy face they exclamed “this is so cheap!”. And they are right! This way it is cheap to eat quality! Normally one is obliged to buy a bag of 125gr or more, which is more expensive and is likely not to be finished. Like this everybody wins; the child gets what he wants at a good price and the local producer sells.

In times of deep economic crisis such as it is the case in Spain Zero Waste shopping makes double sense! One saves money, supports local economy and reduces impact on the planet.

For all this Granel joins our list of Zero Waste companies.