Frequently asked questions
Here’s some frequently asked questions from our Better Food customers. If you can’t find what you need here, please contact us.
Can I park at your stores?
Our flagship store at St. Werburghs has a dedicated free customer car park at the rear of the store, shared with Children’s Scrapstore. Customers can get 30 minutes’ free parking from pay and display machines located near our stores at Wapping Wharf and Whiteladies Road. At Gloucester Road, there is short stay and limited residential parking nearby on Radnor Rd. See our Stores page for more details.
What are your store and café opening hours?
Our stores are open 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, our Wapping Wharf, Whiteladies Road and Gloucester Road stores open from 10am to 6pm, while our St. Werburghs store opens from 10am to 4pm. Café opening times vary slightly, please check our Cafés page for details.
Do you accept Bristol Pounds?
Yes, we accept Bristol Pounds in cash and text-to-pay at all our stores.
What are you doing about single use plastics?
Quite a lot, and we’re endeavouring to do more. It’s such a huge problem, which we’re tackling bit by bit. For more information on our plastic-reduction adventures, please see our comprehensive response to the plastic and packaging crisis.
Why don’t you stop selling meat?
Take a look at our environmental policy in regard to selling meat, fish and dairy at Better Food.
Why do you charge the prices you do?
Pricing of products in organic retail is complex and depends on lots of different factors. We’re often approached by customers who are concerned that they’re not getting good value for money on our organic products, compared with supermarkets or their corner shop, so here we’ll try and explain some of the things that influence our pricing.
By and large, we price our grocery products at the recommended retail price (RRP) set by the wholesaler. This reflects the current market price, allowing producer, wholesaler and retailer to take enough from the final price to make a profit. Respecting the RRP also helps prevent businesses in the vicinity underselling each other, which can push the price down to an unsustainably low level. Occasionally, we may get a special deal from a wholesaler which allows us to put the product on offer and pass on the saving to our customers. Supermarkets might choose to sell a product below the RRP because they know they can sell large volumes of that product, or because they have been able to use their buying power to negotiate a better price from their wholesaler. Smaller shops may decide that it’s worth their while selling a product below RRP and taking a smaller margin for a number of reasons, for example if they want to attract customers to their shop through selling a select range of cheaper organic products.
Whilst convenient, the advent of supermarkets in the last 70 years has done a lot to distort our perception of the cost of food and the prices we expect to pay don’t accurately reflect what it costs to produce. No where is this more true than in small scale organic production, where farming methods are more labour intensive and sometimes produce a smaller yield to the benefit of the environment, animals and consumers.
Unlike supermarkets, the size of our business means that we’re not able to sell products for less than they cost us to buy (known as loss leaders). Supermarkets often make a loss on certain products, knowing that this will attract many customers to their store who will then buy enough high margin products to recover the loss. We don’t have the capacity to stock and sell enough high margin products to recover this sort of loss, and we don’t think this is a sustainable way to do business. Some brands will even pay supermarkets for shelf space, meaning the supermarket can afford to make a loss on their product. We don’t have the buying power to make this sort of demand of our suppliers, nor do we think this practice is very fair.
Margin is the difference between what a product costs a shop to buy, and what it sells it to the customers for. In short this ‘profit margin’ is where all retailers make their money. Many factors affect what profit margin a business needs to thrive, such as the costs of running their business, staff numbers and costs, rent and rates, range and value of stock. At Better Food we rent our retail and café spaces, offer a wide range of products and have a large staff base so we have high costs that we need to ensure are recovered. Our staff are paid above National Living Wage, as well as receiving staff lunch and staff discount. We pay our suppliers within agreed terms and at fairly negotiated prices – these factors are reflected in and affect our pricing.
Fresh produce – UK
Our price of fresh produce is subject to its own set of factors, which is why we have a dedicated produce team to monitor our stock and go to great lengths to maintain competitive pricing, doing regular price checks against the major supermarkets. We’re incredibly lucky to have a close relationship with The Community Farm, who supply us with organic vegetables not only from their own fields, but from the fields of farmers across the local area. This direct link to producers allows us to maintain competitive prices on all our seasonal, local fruit and vegetables whilst paying a good price to the producer (see the worked example below). Often, where supermarkets appear cheaper on organic, local produce, this is because they have pre-packed their produce in smaller portions, meaning that the unit price appears low when compared to the per kilo price. Although we do sometimes pre-pack for convenience, by and large we prefer to sell produce loose, priced per kilo to avoid excess packaging and maintain a transparent price.
Fresh produce – imported
Prices for fresh fruit and vegetables are more volatile when importing from abroad. Though we will always choose local produce first, there are certain times of the year when UK produce is too scarce to meet customer demand, and there are certain products we import when not available locally in order to be able to compete with supermarkets on product range. Most of these products are bought from Europe and sourced through the international organic fresh produce trade where prices are subject to market fluctuations and are generally more favourable to companies with bigger buying power, such as supermarkets. Produce bought on this market currently tends to be more expensive due to the weak Pound against the Euro, and is sometimes more expensive still if affected by adverse weather conditions.
We’d like to thank all our customers for continuing to be part of the solution to the complex issues facing the food supply chain today.
How can I work for Better Food?
All our vacancies are advertised on our website; visit our Jobs page for details of current posts and how to apply.
How can I get my product stocked in Better Food?
We get a large number of requests from prospective suppliers. In order to give everyone a fair chance, we we ask every prospective supplier to complete a new supplier form, available to download here. Please don’t send in samples speculatively, or try contacting us via other means; you will just be asked to go to the website and follow the process.
How can I claim a refund?
If you’re inadvertently charged incorrectly or you find fault with your shopping once you get home, please let us know as soon as possible, by contacting us either in person, by phone or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange the best way to refund you. We’ll be able to correct the error most effectively if you still have your receipt, and if you contact us as soon as you notice something is wrong.
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