Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook

Suma Wholefoods
Date Submitted: Thursday, February 20, 2014
Tell us a bit about Suma Wholefoods

"We are a workers' cooperative, established in 1977, with policies of equal pay, democratic management and equal opportunities.  We are the UK's biggest independent wholefood wholesaler, supplying our own products and other ethical brands to farm shops, Fairtrade shops, caterers and distributors across the UK and further afield."

How do you communicate your cooperative values to your customers?

"Our values are integral to everything we do at Suma.  We have a policy of multi-skilling workers to do various jobs so that they are familiar with most areas of the business.  This comes in very handy when communicating with customers as we can answer their queries more easily. Our delivery drivers are also multi-skilled members of the co-op so this customer-facing role gives us the chance to get our values across to them directly.

 Suma has a very active online presence and our website is regularly updated with articles, product features and recipes that our customers love.  Facebook has also proved to be an asset for responding to queries and getting feedback from people who use our products. It's a quick and easy way for people to get in touch with us and helps them understand us as a business. We also use Twitter regularly and tend to have a lot more communication with other businesses and organisations on this network, whereas Facebook contacts are usually individuals."

What initiatives do you use to engage with customers online?

"An initiative that gains a lot of interest from the public is special offers or product giveaways.  We might post a question on Facebook ('What's your favourite vegetarian BBQ food?', for instance) and offer a prize for the best answer. We can also ask people to 'like' our page in return for a prize, which in turn means that more people are seeing our updates and news feeds.

Our website,, has a feature allowing people to submit their stories to us. They can type in their submissions and, subject to proof reading, they invariably appear on our site. Viewers regularly use the comments feature on our posted articles to share their thoughts and questions."

Can you tell us anything about your experience with using .coop domains and email?

"We have found in some cases that people are a little confused by the .coop domain because it's something they are not familiar with. It does seem to be becoming more popular and widely recognised, though. Most people see it as an identifier of the fact that we are a cooperative business and that tells them something about us - that we are slightly different from your average wholesaler!"

test IP address = - Country = US () - NA