Texas grocer encourages local sourcing, bulk buys

The strategy behind In.Gredients combines a focus on local food sourcing along with 'package free' or 'package light' approach to food distribution.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

A new grocery story concept opening soon in Austin, Texas, called in.gredients will emphasize two of the industry's loudest rallying sustainability cries: a focus on sourcing fresh, locally sourced and organic foods, and the elimination of unnecessary packaging wherever possible.

The store, which will have about 1,000 feet of retail space to start when it opens later this fall, is the brainchild of the Lane brothers Christian, Patrick and Joseph, and another business partner, Christopher Pepe. The brothers have experience in IT services, while Pepe is a photographer who has a long-time interest in sustainability.

When I spoke with Christian Lane about in.gredients several weeks ago, he said the driving force behind the business plan is simplicity. Not only simplicity of food ingredients that will be sold but also simplicity when it comes to merchandising the food and other products sold by the grocery story. Instead of aisles full of overwrought packaging, the store will feature demonstration gardens, composting lessons, recycling techniques and other concepts to help the Austin community learn more about sustainable living habits.

"The idea is that we will provide things that are not processed and just focus on good quality ingredients," Lane said. "If you take the traditional grocery store, there is a focus on aisles and aisles of foods that are in boxes that are overusing shelf space."

On the packaging side, in.gredients will encourage customers not only to bring their own bags to carry purchases away, but to bring their own bulk containers to box them up. For example, bring your own spice bottle or box for dry cereals or grains. If you forget to bring containers or don't have something appropriate, in.gredients will provide a sustainable alternative.

"We view every transaction as an opportunity to train people about sustainability," Lane said.

Over the next few months, Lane needs to finalize the relationships and arrangements that will supply in.gredients, a process that has been somewhat complicated by the brutal Texas drought. The weather won't affect the company's timing, however, and the store should be open later this fall after some open houses scheduled in the Halloween timeframe.

Lane said the company has already had inquiries from other cities interested in emulating the concept if it proves successful. "The response, so far, has been very validating," he said.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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