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We welcome your comments and give each one attention and serious consideration. Send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (link sends e-mail) or fill out a Customer Comment form in the Owner Resources area. Each month a small selection is printed in the Reader. The rest can be found in the commons or in the binder near Customer Service. Thank you!

 


Home delivery

Q: I’m unable to find info on website re home delivery service. Several yrs ago when I placed orders online, I found Willy website very cumbersome to navigate. I was told that aspect of website was slated for upgrade and improvement. Was this done? Thank you.

A: We have not upgraded our online ordering system yet; however, we are currently working on an E-Commerce project to do just that. We are focusing on quality and our goal is to create a user-friendly shopping experience While we don’t have a definitive timeline and the project is taking longer than originally anticipated. This is a project we are committed to and we are looking forward to providing this improved service to our Owners! Thanks for taking the time to reach out!

-Matt McHugh, Logistics Director

 

Lean/Fat

Q: PLEASE, PLEASE post on your product description/price sign what the ratio of lean to fat is on your ground beef, ground round, etc. - for example, 80/20, 90/10, etc.. I MUST know this because of the diet I am on. VERY important.. Thank you so much!!

A: Thank you for taking the time to write. We do sell ground beef with the fat to lean ratio that you are requesting. We sell them in 1-lb prepacks from Wisconsin Meadows, we sell both 90/10 and 80/20.

Unfortunately, we do not make any claims to the fat-to-lean ratio of our fresh ground beef. The reason for this is that we do not have the equipment to test the ratios. The kits we would have to use run between $2,000-$6,000. We would then have to test each batch of fresh ground beef then adjust each batch until it is within +/-2% of our claimed ratio, then document and maintain the records for 1 year. If we were to be audited by the FDA or the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and we were off by as little as 3% we could face heavy fines. To avoid this we label our fresh grounds as either lean (approximately 80/20) and extra lean (approximately 90/10).

Thank you, Jeremy Johnson, Meat & Specialty Category Manager

 

Business Memberships

Q: Just wondering if you have a business membership? We are opening a restaurant and were inquiring...

A: Thank you for inquiring about opening an account for your restaurant. Businesses are not eligible to invest equity and become Owners; however, the Co-op does offer a Business Account, which offers limited shopping benefits, such as a discount on pre-ordered cases and the ability to have a pre-paid charge account if desired.

I will refer you to see someone at Customer Service desk at any store location to sign up for a Business Account. Thank you!

-Robert Halstead, Owner Records Administrator

 

Vegan breakfast

Q: I had a great vegan breakfast from your buffet yesterday morning. After two mediocre vegan meals at other eateries in Madison the day before, I was delighted by the blueberry French toast, the breakfast potatoes and the biscuits and gravy. Other vegan items were already sold out when I arrived at 10am, but all three of these made the best breakfast I’ve had out in months. Next time I visit Madison, eating at your buffet will be a no brainer for me and friends.

A: Thank you for taking the time to write in and share your positive experience dining at the hot bar. It’s always nice to hear kind words and you can be sure I will share them with the staff. We look forward to seeing you in the store again on your next Madison visit! Best,

Katie O’Connell-Jones, Owner Resources Coordinator - West

 

Co-op basics

Q: I’m not totally clear on the Co-op Basics tag/labeling system. Is that something on sale? I get the 2-week sale tags, etc., but Co-op Basics is not something I understand. Thank you.

A: Thanks for your question! Co-op Basics products are our best quality products at our best prices. They are not on sale, but almost every one is at the listed price for at least three months, and some have been at that price for years! They are a collection of staple products, many of which we can provide at reduced pricing thanks to the buying power of National Co-op Grocers, of which we’re a member. Aside from some produce Co-op Basics items that change seasonally, there are few products that leave this program; we more typically add products, and now have over 450 on the program. If you have any further questions, please let me know!

-Brendon Smith, Communications Director

 

Thanks East Meat!

Q: I just wanted to say thanks to East Meat Department staff for yet again helping me out with a selection of meat. The Top sirloin suggestion for Kabobs worked out wonderfully! Bonus that it was super budget friendly! You all always help me out in choosing the best product to use while teaching me new tips! 5 stars!

A: It’s so awesome that you took the time to write in and give a shout out to the Meat department. We all know what a difference hearing some kind words can make.

-Katie O’Connell-Jones, Owner Resources Coordinator—West

 

MANGO MAN SALSA

Q: A few weeks ago, I was looking for Mango Man Salsa at North. It was my understanding that after Tony’s tasting promo, the Coop would be selling his salsa. Even with staff assistance, we did not locate it. Interestingly, I recently found it! YAY! However, it was only by chance b/c it was located with the marinades, ketchup, bbq sauces, etc. Please consider moving these fabulous, local salsas to a more appropriate area. In addition, Tony’s chips will also soon be available. Can’t wait! Thank you!

A: Thanks for reaching out and I’m sorry you had such a hard time finding one of my all-time favorite salsas, marinades, all-purpose delicious sauces! Obviously, it’s a new addition for us so staff are not quite used to where it lives. As to its location in the store, this product is a tough one to make sense of where it should live. It has so many uses and in my interactions with Tony, he has always mentioned it as a tremendous marinade (which it most certainly is!), hence its location in with the marinades. I do understand the confusion because it also makes sense with salsa, the Latin American set and the condiments. I guess it just depends on how you choose to use it and we don’t want to put the same product in 3-4 different places, as that might get extra confusing for customers and staff.

In my merchandising experience with products that have multiple uses, the best solution is to try and find a location that captures the most uses (in this case with marinades, condiments and hot sauces) and do our best to share/show that location with customers so they know where we ended up putting it. We failed in helping you find it, so for that, I apologize. Hopefully next time there won’t be any problem finding it!

I hope this helps to share a little insight into why we put it where it is. Honestly, it is quite difficult to place product in a way that naturally makes sense to everyone, especially for items that have more than one use.

All the best, Michael Burns, Product Placement Manager

 

BEER BRATS

Q: I just wanted to say that I bought some of the Beer Brats Anna Gilberts (northside Meat GURU) made and they were so delicious!!! Super tasty and not at all dry. My only complaint is that I can’t buy them at all stores! I will most certainly be back for more, and to try some of her other new sausages. So so SO good!

A: Thank you for taking the time to write in and share your feedback about those tasty beer brats. I will make sure to pass your kind words on to Anna and the team at North. Yay for grilling and summer!!

Katie O’Connell-Jones, Owner Resources Coordinator – West

 

BASIC COOKING CLASS

Q: A basic cooking class using herbs and spices would be awesome.

A: Thank you for the suggestion! I have sent your question on to our chef instructor to develop into a class. I’m hoping to have this class on the schedule this fall.

Best, Liz Hawley, Education & Outreach Coordinator

 

GREENS PRICING

Q: Why are organic greens from California in clamshells significantly cheaper than bulk? I’m trying to avoid products in plastic. Plus I wonder how organic they really are. Are you sure they’re not irrigated with frac water? It’s happening!

A: Thanks for writing with your concerns regarding the pricing of our organic salad mix, and the organic integrity of these products.

Like most things in the Produce department, the pricing for bulk salad mix is generally slightly higher than the packaged. Bagged apples, potatoes, and onions are priced similarly compared to their bulk counterparts. The idea is that if you purchase more of the product, you get a better price - whereas with the bulk product you have the option to get as little as you want.

I definitely understand your desire to eliminate as much plastic as possible, which is why we offer the bulk salads at all. Increasingly, grocers are turning away from this product entirely because it is hard to manage, and can lead to significant product loss. We believe that we need to preserve the option for customers such as you, and we will continue to offer it at the best price we are able to.

Regarding the organic integrity of the salad mix. It, and all of the organic produce in our Produce departments, is USDA Certified organic, meaning that it has been inspected by a third-party organization, ensuring that it meets minimum standards for organic set by the USDA.

The concern, I believe, with some California crops is that they may be irrigated using waste water from oil-fields, and the USDA organic regulations are not crystal clear in their prohibition of this practice. I am hopeful that they will address this issue in the near future as I know there are lots of people upset about this issue.

Though I can’t say with certainty that California grown salad mix is not subject to this irrigation, I can tell you that salad crops are not generally grown in the region of California where this is a concern (in and around Kern County). Kern County is in the Southern part of California’s Central Valley, and salad mixes are generally grown in the Central Coast regions in the summer months, and in the Southern Desert region in the winter months.

Hopefully very soon we’ll have local salad mix on our shelves, which will eliminate the issue for the coming season!

I hope this is information is helpful to you.

Best Regards, Megan Minnick, Purchasing Director

 

Pricing

Q: Can you please explain the 15% increase in price of the vegan sheba bars. This is a rather significant price increase, even for a processed food product.

A: Thanks for your comment regarding the price hike on Sheba Bars. It was a move that I felt very reluctant to make.

The truth is rising food ingredient costs precipitated the rise. I identify this usually through a weekly cost audit of our prepared foods that informs me of ingredient price rises. The Sheba bar was an item whose cost was trending upward for quite some time, but I chose to keep the retail price stable for much of that time due to its popularity. I also began looking at other ingredient options to see if I could lower the cost.

Ultimately, I was not able to make up for the smaller profit margins that Sheba and like products were making in this way. I also was not able to source ingredients that were cheaper and still maintained our purchasing standards, which in this case are:

  • Fair trade, slavery free, allergen free chocolate made with organic ingredients
  • Organic puffed rice
  • Organic rolled oats
  • Organic brown rice syrup
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Organic flour
  • Organic sugar

These are all products that are very difficult to find lower-cost alternatives for. In the end, I simply had to raise the price.

I hope this helps illustrate my thinking. I never take raising prices lightly. I know the impact it has on you. I felt like, in this case, I did due diligence and was left with the least desired outcome. If you have any more questions, feel free to respond to me directly here. Thanks for your comment.

-Patrick Schroeder, Prepared Foods Category Manager

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