Dan Kagan’s experience of shopping for organic and ethical food might sound familiar to you. “Every time I went to my local health-food store, I’d spend $100 and come out with four things,” he tells Broadsheet. “I was amazed at how expensive – and most likely inaccessible – this type of shopping would be for most Australians.”
He realised that if the prices were stopping him from buying more products that were good for his family and the planet, they were probably stopping other people as well. So he and his wife Lia Kagan, a photographer and book-maker, decided to start Part & Parcel, a website that sells ethically produced and organic household staples.
The Kagans, who are based in Melbourne, launched the website six weeks ago – right as lockdowns began across Australia – with pantry goods, cleaning products and personal health and hygiene items. In the pantry section you’ll find gingery chai by Chai Walli; creamy vegan salted-caramel chocolate by Loving Earth; and emmental-and-pumpkin-seed crispbread from Bavarian company Dr Karg’s, which was founded 70 years ago. In the household and personal care sections, you’ll find bamboo toothbrushes; organic lavender hand sanitiser; organic cotton tampons; beeswax wraps; and lemongrass-and-ginger cleaning spray. The Kagans hope to eventually partner with local farmers to include perishables.
Part & Parcel’s range might not differ much from what’s available at your local health-food store, but the prices are up to 40 percent cheaper. For example, a jar of crunchy peanut butter by the Byron Bay Peanut Butter Co ($7) or a tin of organic Ceres chickpeas ($2) doesn’t cost much more than what you’d spend on the equivalent big-name brands at a supermarket chain.
“I realised a good way to make [health-product] shopping accessible to more people was to sell my products at close to wholesale,” says Dan. “To do this, I needed to establish a membership-model-based website. Think Costco meets Whole Foods.”
The annual membership fee is $60. Factoring in Part & Parcel’s discounts on recommended retail prices, Kagan estimates customers will recoup the fee once they’ve spent $150.
Even though Part & Parcel aims to keep adding to its product range, the ethos of the brand is to offer a curated selection, with only one option for each type of product. Kagan does the comparison work for customers, scrutinising tins of sustainable, line-caught tuna and tubes of fluoride-free kids’ toothpaste to pick the best.
“I find the choice in stores overwhelming, and food labelling is so confusing. Sometimes ‘healthy’ vegan chocolate has more sugar than a Cadbury chocolate bar. I like to think I know my stuff, and even I get confused,” he says.
Products made by companies that prioritise the environment, ethical production and fair trade are also prioritised. “We work with famers engaged in sustainable practices [and] a coffee company that empowers women by sourcing beans from female growers in developing countries,” Kagan says. Buying local is also important, but it doesn’t stop him from sourcing products from overseas if he can’t find them in Australia, and if the company is doing good work.
“Take our apple-cider vinegar. Bragg haven’t just been producing premium vinegar since 1912, they have an entire foundation purely dedicated to health education.”
A Part & Parcel membership costs $60 per year. Products ship Australia-wide. Standard metro delivery costs $6.