About the Coop > Information - PLEASE READ!

About the coop and how to join



Benfeita Wholefood Coop was formed in September 2011 by a bunch of us in Benfeita (Arganil) wanting to take advantage of the bulk discounts available by ordering our wholefoods together. It's open to anyone in the Beiras regions of Central Portugal prepared to collect from our delivery locations.

By 2013, the coop had grown so large it became necessary to spread the workload involved with each order so we split up into two groups, one based around Benfeita (the original group) and the other centred on Barril de Alva. At the beginning of 2016, we added a new group in the Gouveia area. Each group has responsibility for its own ordering and separate accounts with suppliers, but all coop members can place orders with any group. Orders are rotated between groups and an order is placed every month. Members choose which group they want to consider their 'home' group to place their regular bulk orders with, but are free to order the odd items they've run short of or which were out of stock on their last order with the other groups. We hope this will work as a flexible and infinitely scaleable model for further groups to form as the coop continues to grow.

We order primarily from Essential Trading, a wholefood coop in the UK, though our long term aim is to be able to source local Portuguese suppliers who can provide a comparable range of organic produce at similar prices. Every pallet of 1,500 in value or more is delivered free of charge. Essential bend over backwards to avoid charging us delivery and so far we have yet to pay a delivery charge.

The coop is an informal association, has no legal standing, is non-profit, and is run by members on a purely voluntary basis for our mutual benefit. If you'd like to get involved in helping process the orders, just contact your group admin.

If you want to order for an organisation/business with official status (and paperwork requirements), please note we can't provide you with any kind of invoice for your goods and neither can Essential Trading. If you need an invoice, the only way you can get one is to open an account with Essential yourself.


Come along to a meeting (the news ticker on the main forum index page will display the next meeting if one's been arranged), email register@benfeitawholefoodcoop.org, or speak to an existing member. You need to be a registered member of the coop to participate in orders and access all the information on this forum.

When you contact us about registration, please indicate which of the coop groups you want to make your 'home' group. All members are free to place orders with any coop group, but for admin purposes you need to designate one group to belong to. This applies even if you live midway between groups and only intend to order the odd thing occasionally.

Your responsibility as a member is to

* Make sure you thoroughly understand your responsibilities as a member. That may sound obvious, but unfortunately it's become necessary to emphasise it. This is a cooperative organisation with everyone volunteering their time and despite our best efforts to be clear about everyone's roles, a lot of additional work is put on the order teams every time by members who "can't be bothered" to read the information and instructions or check the order schedules on this site, fail to order in the requested format or include all the required information in their orders, fail to check their orders for errors, miss deadlines, fail to check and answer emails querying errors, out of stock substitutions and requesting payment, fail to collect orders within the specified 24 hours, or otherwise expect the teams to go out of their way to help them out. The teams are already doing far more than their fair share of the work so this behaviour rapidly erodes all goodwill from the process. If you've heard how grumpy we can be (and yes, we can!), this is why. Please help us to keep this pleasant by doing your bit.
* Assemble and send your orders to your local coordinator before the order deadline in the format requested as described in How to place an order
* Provide all the additional information requested (email address, phone number, etc)
* Take full responsibility for accounting for packs you want to share with others (see How to place an order for more details)
* Once the order has been placed, check your email regularly for communications about errors, out of stock substitutions and your bill (generally around a week after the order deadline) and make payment to your area coordinator immediately by any of the ways described in the email
* Collect your order from the pick-up point for your area (or make arrangements for someone else to do this for you) within 24 hours of our text notification that it's ready to collect
The coop doesn't have any rules as such; all we ask is that no member seeks to profit directly from others' voluntary effort. Consequently any member found setting up business as a wholefood supplier selling on the products they receive through the coop will be asked to leave. Any member attempting to use the coop accounts to order on their own behalf outside of the regular scheduled group orders will also be asked to leave.

Please note that the teams just process the orders. We have no knowledge about things like who might like to share what, who might have spare washing-up liquid because you've run out, or anything else in that vein. This is what the forum is for. Please use it!


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