Opening of Opotiki Coast Organic Food Co-op

You are invited to join an exciting new initiative.  We are pleased to announce the formation of an Organic Food Co-operative.

This new venture is about to send its first collective order to a NZ Organic food Wholesaler.

The OFC group has worked hard to come up with a sustainable working plan that will allow the OFC to grow into a fantastic new way to get organic food in Opotiki.

If you join us by making an order then we will have your box of food ready for the OPENING at 2pm on Sat 16th at the BLUE SHED on the corner of Church and Richard St.


The opening is a chance for you also to ask questions, contribute suggestions, let us know what kind of help and support you can offer, and importantly, see both the venue and examples of the food co-op in operation.

If you are not sure about whether to join, come along on Saturday to see for yourself the fine quality of food that will be arriving.

Location / Venue: 
The Blue Shed, opposite Shell, on the corner of Church and Richard St.

Results of Meeting

We had about 20 people come to hear about the food co-op.  Unfortunately we had trouble with our first order delivery; it got sent back to depot because I wasn’t home yesterday and there was no-one to sign for it.


Points raised at the first meeting (from memory, no notes were taken, so please ADD to this discussion if points raised have been missed)


* The proposed $20/month membership fee seems too high and ‘elitist’.

* $20 per annum was widely accepted as being an amount that would encourage wider participation in the co-op.

* Many members are willing to contribute to working bees on the venue in lieu of rent.

* We need to negotiate with Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust who are currently leasing the venue, to minimise our rent etc.

* The food co-op membership fee should not subsidise the venue for other TTOC initiatives.

* A co-coordinator for collecting orders etc could receive wages for this job, but there are issues of employment to work through.  I worked out that this job would take about 10 hours per week, but streamlining could get it down to 3 - 5.

* With an annual membership fee of $20 we would need 125 members to bring in $50/week to cover wages.

* All current interested members each need to find 5 more people to join.

* Volunteers could work on a roster system to open the venue and collate each order.  This was possibly one reason the previous co-op dissolved, as volunteer time was over used.


There was a general feeling that we want to support organic food, local food, and eco-store style products, but the costs need to be kept low to allow access to the whole community.


Later, in the discussion about the market, it was proposed that if the ‘farmers’ market runs on a Saturday then the food co-op open hours should be at the same time.


Add a comment to this to continue the development of this idea.

More ideas/suggestions

These are some ideas I've come up with since the meeting...  

When the TT trust is up and running soon the trustees can apply with IRD to be an employer, and offer a set fee for running the co-op.  I would propose the minimum wage for a set rate of 5 hours work, and we could apply to REAP for printing costs.  Email expenses and toll calls to suppliers will need to be discussed, as well as membership fee for the employer if they are also a member. 

Not all members are going to be able to contribute to working bees or take their turn on the roster to open and distribute goods.  Could we have a sliding scale for participation?  Eg. $100 annual membership fee, down to $20 for volunteers who help out 4 times a year.   Or think of  it as a $20 annual membership fee, plus $20 each term unless you volunteer.

With a goal of 125 members, each member would only need to volunteer for 1 day a term, either a working bee or opening ‘shop’.  You would always get at least 2 people at a time to open for distribution.   We would have to organise at least one working bee per term.  Each time you volunteer that takes $20 off your fee.

A tricky idea that may not be legal: 

If a member wants a tin of tomatoes the price list has the normal per unit price.  If the co-op collectively orders 12 tins of tomatoes the price is discounted.  The current proposal is to refund the discount to each member who bought a tin. 

This adds significantly to the administration time.  Members can buy 12 tins at a time if they want to make sure they get that discount.
My tricky idea is for the co-op to pocket the discount difference.  That then becomes a small fund for buying the bulk foods, scoops and containers etc for the ‘stage 2’ self-service. 

I’m wondering if this gets around the idea of marking up the price which puts the co-op in the food sellers’ category? 

When should we place the next order?


Plenty of conversations are happening offline about the food co-op, but I want to put them up here so everyone can be informed.

Tiaho has agreed to take on a more 'project manager' type roll for the Community Market, working with Claire and Lynn R.

The food co-op does not need the venue until it reaches stage 2.  If this co-incides with the proposed launch of the Community Market sometime in late Spring/Summer (Nov/Dec) then that means the food co-op can operate from a garage.

I have a spare garage, and the co-op is already by default operating from my place.  I propose formalising this arrangement, by having the co-op paying for the rent of the space used.  I will continue to contribute volunteer time to making the orders etc, so no wages and PAYE needs to be done.

I think a fair price for the lockable, alarmed garage would be $60 per week.  The co-op would need to contribute to toll calls made to suppliers etc, and cover costs of printing.

We would still need volunteers to box up the goods and open on a Saturday morning for distribution/pickup.  I can be available other times by arrangement for collection.

The first 'working bee' can be here, to take all the stuff stored in the garage to the garden shed at the back of our property, and clean it up ready for clean and dry distribution of food. 

We would not be storing food in the garage.  When we are ready for Stage 2 and have enough funds for buying in bulk and having goods stored we will start to use the food safe at the Blue Shed.

I'll send out new order forms for another delivery next week.

info on starting a food co-op

Great to see a food co-op starting in Opotiki. Well done. I wish you every success.

There's a great booklet called "How To Start A Food Co-op" put out by the Cooperative Grocers Information Network which is available on the NZ Co-ops Association website at which is worth while reading.