Happy Customer: New Pioneer Food Co-op

We’re asking customers to share what they love about their local natural products store. This month, the spotlight shines on one shopper’s experience at New Pioneer Food Co-op, in Coralville, Iowa.

Nestled in eastern Iowa, New Pioneer Co-op has three locations and 180 employees, and racks up $20 million in annual sales. Known to locals as New Pi, the co-op stands for shared economics, community enrichment, diverse participation, and prioritizing past, present and future shoppers.

Cadry Nelson, Vegan Food Blogger at cadryskitchen.com, says this co-op is her favorite place to shop, mainly because of the plethora of products offered for vegan eaters.

“They have a huge array of vegan specialty products, which keeps my meals varied and exciting,” says Nelson. “Whenever I travel, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a local co-op that rivals big city markets in terms of the new and varied plant-based products they carry.”

New Pi has a wonderful bakery and deli that makes in-house products with quality ingredients, Nelson adds. “I don’t need to make a vegan cinnamon roll at home when they can do the work for me with the exact same ingredients I’d buy in store!”

Nelson is what any retailer would call a lifetime customer. Shopping at New Pi since 1993, she regularly indulges in popcorn tofu, cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies—which are all vegan and made in store. She stocks up on the savory items too. Particularly, she can’t leave the store without Herbivorous Butcher seitan bacon, and local produce.

The fact that the buyers prioritize local produce is another reason she loves New Pi. “The same things you might see at the farmers market are on their shelves. It means that things are incredibly fresh, because they didn’t have to be trucked in from across the globe.”

Store appearance matters, Nelson adds, and shopping is always easy with clean, wide aisles, and a knowledgeable staff. These qualities were particularly reassuring throughout 2020, when safety and cleanliness became a top priority for many Americans. “They started taking pandemic protocols seriously early on. So I know it’s a place that cares about the safety of its staff and customers.”