Owners: Workers Co-operative
Enterprises/Activities: Wholesale of natural products
Essential is the result of a merger in 1991 of two long standing worker co-operatives: Harvest Natural Foods of Bath and Nova wholefoods of Bristol.
Since the merger, the new company has grown year-on-year so that we now:
- have a customer base of 1,500 active accounts
- sell over 6,000 product lines
- employ a total of about 100 staff
- 80 of whom are full members of the co-operative
- have achieved a turnover in excess of £8 million last financial year
The conception of our co-operative’s business came from a belief in the inherent “goodness” of the products that we sold, and it was the strength of this belief that has carried the business forward.
During the time that we have been around, we have witnessed a sea change in attitude towards natural vegetarian food; from the comedic notion that it’s for rabbits, and that vegetarians eat rabbit food, right up to the present day opinion that we should all eat more of it, and that the much processed food (the stuff we don’t sell) isn’t any good and never was.
You only have to look at the current trends in the media and what’s taking up more and more shelf-space in the frighteningly successful supermarket chains, to see that food without additives, that isn’t over processed, and which is fair trade and organic, is diverse in its sources and is rampant.