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Purpose of the purchasing policy

The Portland Food Co-op Purchasing Policy serves to provide Co-op staff with guidelines for purchasing food and other goods for sale in the store.  It also informs our Member-Owners, vendors, customers, and community members about the products we carry.

Our mission

The Portland Food Co-op brings local producers and consumers together in a member-owned marketplace to grow a healthier community and a more sustainable food system.  We model cooperative values, operate with transparency, and foster trusting relationships with our customers, employees, and suppliers.

Our guidelines

We are dedicated to supporting local farmers and producers and actively seek out new sources for local foods and goods. Contributing to a vibrant and sustainable local system is one of our primary goals.  We emphasize natural foods: products free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colorings, and flavorings. We look for whole foods, those with a minimum of processing and refining; organic foods, those raised without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics; and best value, quality items at the best price.

The Co-op strives to increase the affordability and variety of basic healthful foods to as broad an array of community members as possible.


We prefer foods and other goods that are:

  • Produced by local or regional growers and craftspeople

  • Produced and/or distributed by cooperatives

  • Produced with the least environmental harm

  • Presented in packaging that is minimal and environmentally sound

  • A better alternative to purely conventional products

Because we strive to meet the needs of as many community members as possible, we also carry products that fall outside these guidelines. We offer choices to our customers by balancing various needs;  for example, organic vs. best value, or bulk products vs. convenience. Our product mix reflects what our customers purchase at our Co-op. We recognize that food choices are highly personal and that some products or ingredients that are acceptable to some are not acceptable to others. We urge customers to read ingredient labels on all products to see how well they correspond to their individual preferences. The Co-op’s preference is to provide customers with transparent information about food issues and ingredients and then allow them to make their own decisions.