- How do I open an Essential trade account?
You can apply for a trade account by filling in the online registration form.
- I'm already an Essential customer how do I get a login for online ordering?
For a reminder of your password go to Log in. Enter your e-mail address and click "Forgot Password" to receive an email. If you are not sure which e-mail is registered contact customer care: firstname.lastname@example.org
- When is my deadline to place an order?
To take advantage of our Priority Service please place your order before 5.00pm, 2 working days before your delivery day. This means your order is picked early on the day before delivery and we contact you with any out of stock items and offer suitable substitutes. Our buying and retail packing sectors check stock levels in the afternoon, and any items that have just arrived into our warehouse or have been packaged during the day will be added to your order. For our Standard service we are happy to take your order before 11am the working day before the delivery, but we are unable to offer the advantages of the priority service. We are no longer able to take extras after 11am on the working day before delivery.
- Stock levels
Our Customer Services team are happy to answer any questions that you have about stock levels. If you require large quantities of a single item please give 1-2 weeks notice to ensure we can fulfil your order. You can reach customer services on 0117 9430 800.
- Can I only buy whole cases?
Many of the products that we sell are available in split cases. Cases that we split are indicated by using an asterisk '*' instead of an 'x' sign by the case size. For example, 12 * 300g is splittable and 12 x 300g is unsplittable. The ways in which we split cases are limited to halves, quarters and in rare cases thirds and occasional fifths, depending on the case size. There are some products that are packed in numbers which limit how the case can be split, for example, something packed in a case of fourteen can only be split in half.
- Do you sell alcohol?
Yes! We have a good selection of alcoholic beverages. They are all organic and vegan. We are however unable to export alcoholic beverages out of the UK due to licensing laws.
- How can I get an Essential catalogue?
You can now browse and order from the Essential catalogue online. Or you can request a paper catalogue by contacting our Customer Care.
- Do you have electronic pricelists?
We have price list available as excel spreadsheets, PDFs and zipped files. You can find them under Downloads when you are logged in. We also have useful documents like blank ordering sheets and information on current promotions and offers that can be sent electronically. Log in to access the downloads area.
- How often do you update your prices?
All prices in our paper catalogue are correct at the time of going to print and are subject to market change without notice. Prices in the online catalogue are updated daily. The Excel pricelist available to download (once you have logged in) is updated weekly on a Friday. Our sales team can advise on latest pricing and stock levels.
- When do promotional offers begin and end?
The promotional offers run 6 times a year: Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr etc. Any promotional offers will become active on the 1st day of the start of the current pricelist. For instance a product on offer during the May-June pricelist will be available from the 1st day of May and will end on the last day of June (unless the promotion is while promo stock lasts). If you place an order before the 1st of May, then you will not receive the May-June promotional price, even if the delivery is in May or June. However if you place an order on or before the end of June, you will receive the promotional price, even if the delivery is in July. Please note however that we need to have received your order by closing time on the last working day (week day) during the "life" of a price list in order for you to receive the promotions. If we receive the order after this time then the order will be processed during the "life" of the following price list and the promotions will no longer apply. See on-line catalogue for current promotional offers.
- What is an Order Pad?
Order Pads are permanent product lists useful for online ordering. They are ideal if you need to separate your order for different departments or people, e.g. Order Pad 001 could be for Essential Brand, Order Pad 002 for Ingredients, and Order Pad 003 for Julie. They will appear in separate sections on your invoice thus facilitating the admin process at your end.
- Do your prices include VAT?
As a wholesaler all our catalogue prices exclude VAT. VAT rates are V=20% M=7.8% F=5% and Z=0%. To help our Retail customers RSP prices are inclusive of VAT where applicable.
- When do I have to pay for my order?
Our standard payment terms, for orders delivered by Essential, are that payment becomes due once you have received your delivery. However, we allow a grace period of up to 7 days, to enable you to arrange a BACS payment or to post a cheque. Orders that are sent by haulier or overseas should be paid before dispatch. If you wish to apply for credit terms, please contact customer accounts.
- How do I apply for credit terms?
If you would like to talk to us about payment terms, please contact Customer Accounts 0845 458 1460 or 0117 9430811 or email email@example.com.
- How should I pay?
Please give a cheque to the Essential delivery driver, where possible. We are unable to accept cash payments on delivery, unless it’s in Bristol pounds. You can also pay by debit or credit card, by bacs, online banking or by Direct debit. If you would like more information about these methods of payment please contact Customer Accounts on 0845 458 1460 or 0117 9430811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can I pay with a credit card? Is there an additional charge?
We accept payment by most debit and credit cards. We do not currently impose any additional charges for card payments. We do not accept payment by American Express.
- Can you retain my card details?
Yes, we can securely retain your credit or debit card details, using an online SagePay service. Please call Customer Accounts if you would like us to automatically take your payments, using your securely retained card details.
- How do I find out the balance on my account?
If you need any information about your Essential account, please call us on 0845 458 1460 or 0117 9430811 or email email@example.com.
- Do you accept Bristol Pounds?
Yes, we are happy to receive payment in Bristol Pounds. You can pay in cash, via BACS or SMS. Please contact Customer Accounts for our Bristol Pound account details.
- When will I receive my invoice?
The original invoice will come with your delivery. If you would like us to also routinely email a copy of each invoice to you, please let us know by calling Customer Accounts on 0845 458 1460 or 0117 9430811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How will I receive my accounts information?
We are striving to minimise the amount of paper we use, so we automatically send statements, credit notes and other accounts information by email. If you would prefer to receive these in the post, please contact Customer Accounts to let us know.
- How do I request a copy of an invoice or credit note?
If you need a copy document please phone us on 0845 458 1460 or 0117 9430 811 or send an email to email@example.com.
- How can I get a copy of your Organic certification?
It can be downloaded from Useful documents.
- What does UK2 stand for?
UK2 is the old certification number used by Organic Farmers & Growers who are Essential Trading main organic certification body, Soil Association was UK5. See further info on next question.
- How can I tell if the Essential brand products are Organically Certified?
Since the EU certification Law changed in 2012, all organic certified products are required to use the EU organic logo. With this logo the new certification numbers came into effect, so Organic Farmers and Growers is GB-ORG-02, Soil Association is GB-ORG-05 and Demeter products (The Biodynamic Association - BDA) is GB-ORG-06.
- What is your GM policy?
All our suppliers are required to sign a contract to guarantee they are GM free and we have a strictly No GM policy on all our products. If you require more info contact our Quality Assurance officer Michael Schmidt: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Why do some products have a vegan logo and others don't?
Whilst all of our products are 100 % vegetarian, some do contain animal derivatives e.g. honey or milk. If unsure please speak to quality control as above before purchasing.
- Has the Essential Sauerkraut been pasteurised?
The Essential Sauerkraut has been pasteurised at 90 degrees and the duration depends on the jar size. Pasteurisation prevents secondary fermentation, which could cause the jar to explode.
- Are there any additives in the Essential Coconut milk?
The Essential Coconut Milk does not contain any preservatives or stabilisers.
As it is certified organic, no other additives can be added at any stage of the process without authorisation & listing on the can.
- How can I be sure the product I am buying is gluten free?
The "crossed wheat" logo of the coeliac society is a mark that guarantees the standard of these gluten-free foods. Find out more on this leaflet. Pricelists of Gluten free products that we stock can be downloaded once you have logged in.
- Do your cans contain BPA in the lining?
You can find all the information about BPA in this document.
- Is the Essential-brand pre-packs' packaging recyclable?
Our pre-packaged whole-foods are packed within heat sealed polypropylene bags (multi layered biaxially orientated polypropylene film laminated with a solvent free adhesive), this kind of polymer is recyclable (recycling number 5) but is not generally collected for household recycling by Local Authorities, although it has a good potential.
We've been looking for compostable packaging for over 10 years but we are not happy with the solutions proposed in terms of suitability for food grade packaging, consistency with our GMO-free policy (gm potato starch) and in terms of warranty of product shelf life. We will continue in our quest to find new technologies that will meet our requirements, but in the meantime we believe that all of us (as consumers, businesses, taxpayers, and as citizens who care about future generations) should put pressure on Local Authorities to implement such recycling.
- Where can I find the Essential products' specifications?
A downloadable document is available below the description and barcode of every product.
- Essential and Fairtrade Commodities
As of December 2018, Essential Trading will have ceased to be registered with the Fair Trade Foundation. This will only affect the Essential FT mango, Essential FT dates, and Essential FT sugar, all of which will be replaced with organic equivalents. Whilst we will continue to trade with ethical values and principles at the forefront of business, we do not unfortunately have capacity to meet with Fairtrade regulations, which require us to obtain valid FLOCERT certificates from customers buying our products in bulk. New product codes for the three ingredients affected are to be found in the catalogue. We thank you for your understanding in this matter.
- Products flags. What do they mean?
Organic: A product that has organic certification. This means that it has been produced by organic farming or without chemical fertilizers, pesticides and artificial chemicals.
Non-organic: A product without any organic certification.
Vegan: A a product that contains no meat, eggs, dairy or honey and is not tested on animals.
Fairtrade: A product that has a fair-trade certification. This means that it was produced in accordance with Fairtrade International's rigorous environmental, economic and social standards.
Gluten-free: A product that has been produced to protect consumers with coeliac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Strict standards are adhered to for gluten-free safety and products are batch tested for less than 20 parts per million. Labels are applied accordingly.
No Added Sugar (NAS): A product developed without the need for sugar. Products without added sugar can contain naturally occurring sugar, however. In some instances, sweetening syrups may have been used.
No Added Salt: A product that doesn't contain sodium chloride. Any sodium content comes from the natural sodium found in the ingredients.
Palm Oil-free: A product that doesn't contain palm oil or ingredients derived from palm oil.
Chilled: A refrigerated product stored between 1 and 4 degrees centigrade.
Frozen: A product that has been subjected to rapid freezing and one that must be kept frozen.
- A few words about our coconut oil
You may have noticed some pink, brown or yellow hues at the bottom of coconut oil purchased from us. This is perfectly normal for cold pressed virgin coconut oil, and here's why.
Cold pressed coconuts can contain small particles from the coconut, such as tiny piece of husks, which mix with the oil during the extraction process. The oil is extracted through mechanical methods, compared to refined coconut oil, which is extracted with solvents, then de-colourized and de-odorised.
In the hot weather, the oil is in liquid form. The jars come to us from Sri Lanka and are therefore in liquid form during transportation, at which point any sediment from naturally occurring particles drift to the bottom of the jars. When the coconut oil reaches colder climates, it begins to solidify and stays in a solid form in the cooler temperatures in our warehouse.
In mid-2021 we found more jars than usual had the aforementioned colours at the bottom. We have discussed this with our coconut oil producers in Sri Lanka who are working on improving the filtration process to minimise the fragments of coconut that are making their way into the final product. Due to higher ambient temperatures in Sri Lanka, the discolouration is virtually unnoticeable at the point of production and preparation for export.
Please rest assured that pure oil does not support microbial growth. The discolouration is simply due to harmless residues that can occur with virgin coconut oil extraction. You could compare it with olive oil: good quality extra virgin olive oil has shades of green, simply because the extraction method is more slow and gentle, compared to non-virgin olive oil, which is usually plain yellow.
- I'm an Essential customer, how do I get my business on your Stockists page?
Contact email@example.com stating your business details, a 50 word description of your business and attaching a jpg image of your choice.
- I want to become a supplier for Essential, who do I contact?
Please use this form to enquire about becoming a supplier.
- How do I set up a Co-operative Buying Group?
See Buying Groups for information on what they are and what our requirements are for setting one up.
- What's your strategy on reducing plastic?
As an ethical distributor and wholesaler, Essential actively source from suppliers who use sustainable packaging options at the production stage. We are constantly seeking out solutions to minimise packaging waste in all areas of the supply chain. Our catalogues are now sent out in paper not plastic, our Essential Toilet Tissue wrapping is fully compostable, our own brand Herbal Tea bags are individually plastic-free, as is our Bulk Pasta range. We have stopped the sale of plastic water bottles and introduced over 100 new plastic-free product lines, from body care to household products and consumables. We pack our own products in recyclable and compostable packaging where possible, and return the shrinkwrap used to secure palletised deliveries to our warehouse, for collection by a specialist recycling facility.
One upshot of the increased public concern around plastic waste is a growing trend toward plastic-free retail. Part of the Essential Co-operative, our retail outlets Harvest Bath and Harvest Bristol have offered a popular re-fill section since 1971. Essential offer a variety of products in bulk sizes, and are a supplier of the nation’s favourite zero-waste shops, including Earth Food Love, Totnes; The Clean Kilo, Birmingham; Incredible Bulk, Cornwall; Preserve & Zero Green in Bristol.
Essential is committed to the protection of the environment and to sustainable food systems. Efforts to source eco-friendly, fit for purpose packaging for our own retail packs has been a neverending quest. In 2018 we started hand-packing flour in paper bags sealed with paper tape – a perfect solution for the commodities that can maintain their quality when packed in paper, but – now for the bad news! - still not suitable for most of our goods, since packaging must be strong, tamper-proof and durable enough to outlive the shelf life of the product. Cellophane for example is made of wood pulp, which sounds good but is a lot more porous than plastic film. This reduces shelf-life significantly, leading to increased food waste – another big factor in food production that we want to avoid. Plus, the edges of cellophane packaging are still heat-sealed with plastic, which render it non-compostable. We also looked into corn starch alternatives to plastic, but unfortunately the corn starch used is genetically modified - a big no-no for us - and still uses plastic in its sealed edges. Interestingly, Riverford Organics worked with Exeter University to undertake research into packaging and found that starch-based plastics are actually worse for the environment than normal plastic. In addition, recycling plastic becomes impossible when corn starch plastic is added into the mix.
Polypropylene (type 5 plastic) is what our pre-packs are made from. This is more recyclable and less toxic than other types, and hence used for packaging food. Sadly, few local authorities in the UK currently recycle type 5 plastic; we should all pile on the pressure to expand this capability.
As technology advances and demand for sustainable packaging puts pressure on manufacturers to invest in such developments, we hope that we are getting closer to finding a suitably sustainable material to replace our current pre-packs.