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Who We Are

Essential Trading have been servicing wholesale communities and supporting the local economy since 1971 when the Co-operative’s first Harvest store opened in Bath.  Following a 1991 merger of two worker co-ops, Bristol-based Nova Wholefoods Co-operative Limited and Bath Wholefood Co-operative Limited, Essential have become one of the largest worker co-operatives in the UK and a true pioneer in the manufacturing and distribution of vegetarian, vegan, organic, sustainable and "free-from" produce, sourced from around the world. As a unified team, all at Essential share passions for hearty and healthy food, an environmental consciousness and an egalitarian co-operative structure.  

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a dramatic rise in popularity of both businesses. Wholefoods distributors and manufacturers were few and far between and the recognised worker co-operatives quickly gained popularity. The introduction of a unique trail mix (nuts, raisins, dried fruit) and museli range had particularly impressive margins, as the team was able to mix it themselves in the warehouse. A range of Harvest pre-packs was further developed, while a wholesale cash and carry service from Bath’s Riverside Business Park was hosted, from where a small number of daily delivery runs were also scheduled. The commendable Bath shop profits supported the wholesale arm and further cultivated a new Bristol outlet. 

Bulk commodities and a wide range of wholefood brands and herbs and spices were supplied to other wholesalers with a focus on supplying good, unprocessed, additive-free, organic and vegetarian food at affordable and competitive prices.  In 1987, trade moved to Essential’s current warehouse to accommodate a more diverse product range and a growth in volumes of products being supplied.