Dublin Food Co-op

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Dublin Food Co-op
Consumers' cooperative
Founded 1983 (1983)
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland
Products Organic wholefoods, sustainable personal care and household products
Website dublinfood.coop

Dublin Food Co-operative Society Limited is a food retailer based in a large former warehouse in The Liberties area of Dublin, Ireland. It was founded in 1983 and is constituted as a consumer co-operative, with a focus on organic and wholefood products.[1]

The main trading day at the Co-op venue is Saturday, when the majority of sales are made by independent stallholders. Whilst similar to a farmers’ market in some respects, its operating model pre-dates the later popularity of farmers' markets in Ireland.[2] It further differs from farmers’ markets by excluding ‘meat and meat products’, in keeping with its constitution.[1]

The Dublin Food Co-op venue also opens on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and on Sundays (when the venue normally hosts independent market events).


Beginnings 1983-1987[edit]

The origins of the Co-op lie with a group of activists brought together by the successful campaign against the construction of a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in County Wexford. In 1983, a number of those involved met together to form an organisation through which members could 'shop in an ecologically sound way' and 'promote the rational use of the earth's resources'. Thus, a buying club for the collective purchase of wholefoods was established.[1][3][4] For one Saturday each month, the Co-op used a succession of locations in Temple Bar as a focal point to allow members to collect pre-ordered wholefoods and to socialise. In 1986 some members who were also producers began to provide fresh organic produce for sale directly at the Saturday events.

Pearse Street 1987-2007[edit]

In 1987, the Co-op arranged to rent the hall at St. Andrew's Resource Centre on Pearse Street, Dublin 2, every second Saturday and switched from monthly to bi-weekly order collections after that.[3][5] This location became the Co-op's base for the next two decades. When the Co-op settled into the new venue, the process to formally incorporate as a co-operative limited company under the rules of the Industrial and Provident Society Acts 1893-1978 was initiated, and Dublin Food Co-operative Society Limited thus came into being in February 1991.[6] In 1995, the Co-op switched away from the pre-order-only system, began carrying a range of stock for general purchase and moved to weekly trading.[3]

Concerns about the Pearse Street premises limiting the Co-op's scope for development remained a recurring theme over subsequent years.[3][7] Other alternatives were explored but it was not until 2007 that relocation occurred, after the Co-op received planning permission and signed a lease on full-time premises at Newmarket, further to the west of the city centre near St. Patrick's Cathedral.[8] Many members and local shoppers wanted to continue shopping at St. Andrew's and one of them started a Saturday dry goods and producers' market at the venue - The Super Natural Food Market. This commenced as a weekly event in August 2007, the month after the Co-op departed.[9]

Newmarket 2007-[edit]

The Dublin Food Co-op building at 12 Newmarket, Dublin 8

In July 2007, the Co-op switched operations to its current home at 12 Newmarket, Dublin 8[10] and added Thursday trading at the new venue from September.[11] It was formally opened in October 2007 by Minister for the Environment John Gormley to coincide with Ireland's National Organic Week.[12]

In April 2013 a new five-year lease for the Newmarket premises was signed. However, the possibility of the Co-op buying its own alternate premises has been under active exploration since 2011 and this option continues to be provided for by a break-clause in the lease.


The vast majority of pre-packed food the Co-op sells is organic and particular emphasis is placed on Fair Trade and environmentally-friendly produce. During Saturday trading (09:30 to 16:30), stallholders extend the dry goods range to include organic vegetables and fruits, organic cheeses, eggs and dairy, organic wine, baked goods, organic clothing, books and other non-food items.[4] The Co-op also opens on Thursdays and Fridays with more limited availability of fresh produce. In addition, the Co-op offers its dry goods range for sale on Sundays.

The number of member-shareholders of the Society at the end of 2012 was recorded by the annual accounts at 876.[13] Members receive a 5% discount on purchases, which increases to 15% if they also volunteer on a rota system to assist with tasks such as shelf stacking.[14]

Since securing its own permanent space and making it available for hire, the Co-op has become home to regular events including the monthly Dublin Flea Market,[15] Fusion Market [16] and Newmarket Brocante, plus the annual Independents Day.[17][18]

Operating Model[edit]

A 2009 academic study described Dublin Food Co-op as "distinctive on the Irish scene" because of its organisational structure.[1] At that time, it was one of only two Irish wholefood retailers established as co-operatives and the only one to take the form of a consumers' co-operative (the other, the Quay Co-operative in Cork, was organised as a workers' co-operative).

The study also argued that the Co-op had "a different pricing structure to conventional businesses, only adding the margin needed to cover its operating expenses".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Murtagh, Aisling and Ward, Prof. Michael Food Democracy in Practice: a case study of the Dublin Food Co-op Journal of Co-operative Studies, Volume 42, Number 1, April 2009, pp. 13-22
  2. ^ Carswell, Vanessa. Bite size: Farm fresh Archived 25 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Sunday Business Post, 27 October 2007
  3. ^ a b c d Douthwaite, Richard (1996). Short Circuit: Strengthening Local Economics for Security in an Unstable World. Dublin: Lilliput Press. ISBN 1-874675-60-0. 
  4. ^ a b McFadden, Angela. New Phase for Dublin's Food Co-op. Archived 2 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The Epoch Times. 23 July 2007.
  5. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op: A Critique - DFC History". Retrieved 2014-01-08. 
  6. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website ref. About Us
  7. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op Newsletter, October 2005" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  8. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op Newsletter, February/March 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  9. ^ Morris, Stephanie. Saturday morning cure at the Natural Foods Market Archived 18 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine. NewsFour, October 2007
  10. ^ Mooney , Sinead. Food Shorts: New home for food co-op The Irish Times., 7 July 2007
  11. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op Newsletter, October 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  12. ^ Kelly, Michael. What's going on The Irish Times, 20 October 2007
  13. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op: A Critique - DFC Finance (2012 Accounts)" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-08. 
  14. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website. ref. Join.
  15. ^ Dublin Flea Market website.
  16. ^ "New market comes to Newmarket". Irish Times. 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  17. ^ Independents Day Blog
  18. ^ Carroll, Jim. Etc. The Irish Times, 5 December 2008

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°20′16.56″N 6°16′36.96″W / 53.3379333°N 6.2769333°W / 53.3379333; -6.2769333