Suma, the UK’s largest independent – and entirely vegetarian – wholefood wholesaler/distributor has been supplying the Vegetarian Society Cookery School with a wide range of wholefoods for over 20 years. To celebrate this relationship, we asked them to tell us a little bit about themselves…
Suma Wholefoods was founded 40 years ago in a student house in Leeds. A group of wholefood shops got together as they wanted to support each other with bulk buying, and to work cooperatively. From the beginning we have been dedicated to supplying vegetarian wholefoods. We are a 100% vegetarian business for a variety of reasons, not least because we don’t believe it is necessary for animals to suffer in order for us to eat healthily.
Furthermore, it is now widely accepted that a meat-eating diet such as that of the western world is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The farmed animal industry also puts a serious strain on the global water supply. At Suma we pride ourselves on our green credentials and our cooperative business model.
Today, Suma Wholefoods headquarters is located in Elland, West Yorkshire, just 20 miles down the road from where we started. We now have a staff of over 200. Unlike most UK companies, Suma operates a thoroughly democratic system of management that isn’t bound by the conventional notions of hierarchy. As a workers’ co-operative, the business is jointly owned and managed by all of us. Everyone is paid the same and we collectively do all the jobs that need doing, whatever they happen to be. And one of the perks of the job is a free vegetarian lunch each day in the staff canteen! In fact, some of our staff attended a Vegetarian Society Cookery School workshop and one of our chefs brought back a recipe that is now a staff canteen favourite – North African Harira Soup!
All of our products are carefully selected to ensure they fit out strict listing criteria, and many of our lines can’t be found in the supermarkets. We aim to promote green and healthy eating. We will not knowingly stock products which contain harmful food additives, and everything we stock is GM free. All our products are carefully sourced as vegetarian. Where eggs are an ingredient, they are free-range.
Preference is given to organic, fair trade and cooperative production and independent manufacturers are supported, with everything sourced as locally as practicable to limit food miles. All of our body care, cosmetic and household products are all cruelty-free.
We source everything with minimal environmental impact in terms of production, transportation and packaging. We aim to promote a market for new and innovative green products. And we always aim to avoid buying from countries or companies with proven poor human rights records.
We are delighted to sell a range of products used by the Vegetarian Society Cookery School in their fantastic courses, from unrefined and gluten-free quality flours, to dried fruit and nut butters. We love that the Vegetarian Society and the Vegetarian Society Cookery School are passionate about all things vegetarian – as are we, which is why we offer vegetarian wholefoods, health foods and body care at affordable prices.
As Suma Cooperative Worker Rebecca Kinnard said:
“Suma is proud to display the Vegetarian Society Approved trademark on many of our products, and we really value our close relationship with the charity, which aides us in promoting a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.”
We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Vegetarian Society in the future, by sharing more great food and inspiring recipes! You can find out more about how we work and see more of our vegetarian recipes here – www.suma.coop.
If you would like to find your nearest stockist, or enquire about opening an account, please do call us on 01422 313861.