The Food Co-op

Home of quality, unpackaged, and organic foods.

About Us

We are Canberra’s food co-op shop and café.

We are a not-for-profit, community-run organisation and we carry locally-sourced organic fresh produce and sustainable fair trade bulk products.

Our mission is to offer affordable, healthy food with minimal packaging, in an environment that fosters participation and cooperation.

Members own the co-op, share the benefits of it and have the opportunity to work in it. The co-op is managed with consensus-based decision making and all members are invited to participate.


Everyone is welcome to shop at the co-op, but members receive a two week discount of 15% for every hour they volunteer. Membership is individual, lasts for 12 months, and is available at a standard or a concession rate.

If you’d like to become a member, ask the volunteer co-ordinator for a form. New members receive a 15% discount on their first shop at the co-op, as well as well as a free lunch or coffee from our café. Additional member benefits include: 

  • Democratic rights within the co-op
  • Bulk orders
  • Consignment rights
  • Lunch and event discounts
  • Weekly newsletter
  • Promote cooperative and not-for profit values
  • Be part of a healthy, interactive, ethical, environmentally-conscious, and community-focused organisation

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How to Shop at the co-op

The Co-op stocks a range of goods – both packaged and unpackaged. Packaged goods can be purchased just like at an ordinary shop, and include chips, dairy products and alternatives, noodles, juices, soy milk, canned veggies, and much more.

However, the Co-op’s speciality is unpackaged goods, which are sold in large bulk bins and include chocolate, pasta, flours, grains, pulses, herbs and spices, nuts, cleaning products and much more. The best approach is to come prepared with containers and bags from home, then follow the simple steps below. It may seem daunting at first, but doesn’t take much effort and the volunteer co-ordinators are always on hand to assist.

  • Particularly if you are buying from the bulk bins, please wash your hands in the kitchen. Please note that the Co-op is in the process of purchasing “no handling” food grade plastic dispensers which will help us keep everything clean.
  • If you didn’t bring a list from home, pick up a notepad and pen from the counter immediately opposite the front door.
  • Scout out what you’re after – there are signs and the friendly volunteers and other members will be happy to help you.
  • Weigh your containers and record the weight on the notepad or on the container itself.  This will be used to subtract the cost of the container when purchases are being calculated. If you are using plastic or paper bags or other light containers you can note the amount- which might be a few cents – or you can consider the few cents a donation to maintaining our Co-op.
  • Fill your containers and when you’re ready, take it to the checkout
  • If you have an accidental spill, please clean it up. There are rags, brooms, etc in the kitchen you can use. If you’ve spilled a large quantity or the item is an expensive one, please consider making a donation to cover costs – the Co-op has a standardised very low mark-up and is a non profit organisation.
  • If you forget, or need more containers, there is a bench with used bags, jars, etc, although it can be a bit of a lucky dip.  There are new paper bags available to purchase cheaply.

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There is a price on all individually packaged items and on bulk containers. For non-members, the price is as marked. Members who contribute one hour of work for per fortnight receive a 15% discount.

Bulk orders  receive a 10% discount in addition to the usual discount for member.  Members can request bulk orders in store with a $25 deposit. Volunteering member discounts are calculated on the total purchase.

  • Membership = 5% discount
  • Membership Bulk Buy = 10% discount
  • Active membership = 20% discount
  • Bulk buy active membership = 15% + a further 10% discount = 23.5%

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Our co-op has an accessibility ramp at the Barry Drive end of the building which may be of assistance to people with restricted mobility/a pram, etc. Children are welcome at the co-op, and there are some sofas and a low table that you’re welcome to use.

We also have a small commercial kitchen which is used for preparing some items for sale and occasional catering.


Click the image below (and then click on that image) to see an enlarged version of the article about the co-op in the Food & Wine section of the Canberra Times from 2 December 2009:

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17 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Just wondering about the history of the co-op. Like, when did it start?

  2. Pingback: Self-Sufficiency and Resilience – Plans upon Returning to Australia « Becoming a Good Human

  3. hi, I’m interested in buying in bulk. In particular I’d like to buy 20kg of rolled oats but I’m wondering how to store it I have plastic bins for chook food etc, but I’m not sure if these are food grade. What do you use to store your bulk supplies? Thanks,


    • Hi Raina, the Co-op is the perfect place to buy in bulk, and you can have 10% of discount when you buy in bulk. If you are not a member already, you can join and then, we will be able to order your oats for you. Regarding the storage, we use big plastic bins for the shop. Oats are better longer if stored in a cool and dry room. Cheers, Elizabeth

  4. Hi there, what payment methods are available? Do you take visa/mastercard/amex?


  5. Hi guys, did you start up on your own capital or are there government grants available to assist with the initial funding?


  6. Hi guys,

    Did you start with your own capital or are there government grants available for initial start up funds?

    We are look at rescuing our local shop in a remote country town by turning it into a co op.



    • Hi Georgia,
      that’s an awesome idea!! We didn’t have a government grant when we started but we have had some help over the years with different grants for various improvements. I don’t know where your town is located but it might be worth your while giving the Alfalfa House co-op a call (02)9519 3374. They have started a network of co-ops and are gathering resources that might be useful for you.

  7. This particular article, “About Us | The Food Co-op” was perfect.
    I am creating out a reproduce to clearly show my personal close friends.
    Many thanks-Vivian

  8. Hi ,
    I see that there is a membership (for 12 months) and then there is an “active membership” (where the member volunteers for 1 hour). However, what I couldn’t immediately find are:
    1. What is the cost of the membership?
    2. What are the minimum & maximum number of hours one can volunteer?
    3. What sort of activities or tasks will be assigned to a volunteer (i.e. what does “perform the other tasks required to keep the Co-op operating” entail, just a few examples, may be)?
    4. Are there options for members with “special” abilities (I don’t like the word disability, sorry) to contribute as a volunteer?

    • Hi Anon,

      Membership costs $35 for concession and $50 for non-concession. There is no minimum or maximum on number of hours you can volunteer, if you don’t volunteer this just means you won’t receive the 15% discount. Best to come in and speak to someone about potential projects and, yes, there are definitely opportunities for people with all abilities!

      – The Food Co-op Team

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