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Hummingbird Wholesale

Grocery manager Tom, our liaison to local food producers, visited Hummingbird Wholesale today with our bulk buyer Zeke, our herb buyer Holly and our supplement buyer Sherrill. Hummingbird is a local distributor that has been providing outstanding products to each of these departments, and we wanted to see their operation up close.

Julie and Charlie Tilt bought

Julie and Charlie Tilt

Julie and Charlie Tilt bought Hummingbird Wholesale six years ago and the business has been growing and expanding ever since. They want to accomplish good things for “us” – Americans, people in general, sustainability, the environment – Hummingbird Wholesale wants to have a positive impact on the world.


Hummingbird uses reusable containers for many bulk goods and charges a deposit to ensure that the containers are returned to them and reused. One of the things that impressed Tom about his visit to Hummingbird was how little they threw away. They have figured out ways to reuse or recycle most of their waste. They have an 82% return rate on the plastic 3 gallon buckets that they deliver bulk nut butters and other products in.
Kristie going out for a local delivery.

Kristie going out for a local delivery.

Hummingbird uses bicycle delivery through Peddlers Express and their own bicycle delivery service for local deliveries. The only time that they use a vehicle to ship their product is when they need to move a 55 gallon drum of something. Other than that, it is zero-emissions human powered bicycle delivery!

Local Sourcing for Organic Staples:

Hummingbird has begun a program working with local farmers to produce organic and transitional to organic local beans, seeds, grains and other bulk staples. The Kiva currently carries organic local pumpkin seeds grown in Scio and distributed through Hummingbird. This winter, local beans and grains will be available as well. As an example of how Hummingbird is partnering with local farmers to both strengthen the local economy and provide a local source to minimize Hummingbird’s carbon footprint, let me quote from Hummingbird’s newsletter, Humming Words (January, 2010):

“Our 2009 crop of Local Organic Pumpkin Seeds grown in Scio, Oregon, is now in stock. These large dark-green seeds offer a potent, rich pumpkin seed flavor without a bitter aftertaste, and they look beautiful. In order to share with our farmer the risk of growing this crop, we purchased the original seeds from which our seeds were grown. We were able to get these original seeds at a lower cost than last year and we had a much better yield per acre this year, so we have been able to pay our farmer more for growing the seed, and also reduce our price from last years’ crop by $.24/lb.”

Sarah packaging dried apples.

Sarah packaging dried apples.

Hummingbird is so committed to localizing the economy that they have several times shared the risk with the local farmers by investing in a crop before it was planted. Hummingbird feels that food security is important, meaning that locally produced food is not only better for the planet but local food producers are directly accountable to the end consumers so the entire food processing structure is more transparent. For instance, Hummingbird was able to monitor the entire growing process for sourcing the seeds to processing them in the case of the local organic pumpkin seeds. Hummingbird tested the seeds after processing and they had zero detectable contaminants.

Visit Hummingbird Wholesale yourself! From 10 AM to 2 PM on Tuesday and Thursday Hummingbird is open to the public as a retail establishment.  Hummingbird Wholesale is located at 254 Lincoln Street in Eugene.  Get to know the people behind this great company yourself!

Julie shows Zeke the bulk liquids.

Julie shows Zeke the bulk liquids.

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