Friday, February 20, 2015

Pal System Food Co-op

A few months ago I joined a food co-op called Pal System. I didn't even realize this was something that existed, but now every week I can order food and have it delivered directly to my door on Tuesday mornings. I've been waiting to post a review so that I could share a fully formed opinion, but I have to say I'm really pleased with how it's been working out.

Every week I get a paper catalogue showing me what's for sale. Then I fill in a scantron form to place my order and turn it in when my next delivery arrives. The catalogue and order form are all in Japanese, but with photographs of each product it's easy to match the order numbers up from the catalogue to the order form. It's also easy to tell the price and the quantities are clearly listed by weight or number (ex: 2 apples, 250 g strawberries).

I pretty much only order fruits and vegetables, but I've found the quality to be very high overall. I also find the prices to be lower and the quantities higher than my local grocery store. While the foods don't meet all the requirements to be organic they label Eco fruits and vegetables that use less chemicals and are better for the environment. Each product lists what prefecture(s) it is grown in.

I really enjoy having less to carry home from the grocery store, and the 180 yen/week delivery fees seems totally reasonable. In fact, I think I make that up in savings most weeks. But be aware they will charge that fee every week though, even if you don't order anything.

There are only a few things I'm not crazy about. The first is the huge amounts of paper wasted each week on the catalogue. It's possible to order online in Japanese, but I find that google translate doesn't work very well, and it's still easier for me to use the paper form. I also find that the food selection is very much geared toward traditional Japanese cooking (which makes perfect sense.) Some things, for example zucchini, bell peppers, and celery aren't offered - at least not on a regular basis, even though I can get those in most grocery stores without any problem. My only other frustration is that sometimes a product lists several prefectures that it could have been grown in, and I would prefer to know the exact prefecture. It might be an over abundance of caution, but I still feel wary of radioactive farmland.

It cost 1000 yen to buy into the co-op, but any time I choose to leave the co-op that money will be refunded with interest. As a promotion I was also given four weeks without a delivery charge and several gifts like free carrots, onions, and bread.

If you're thinking about joining, I'd definitely recommend it.

My first delivery

The pears came protected in bubble wrap!
The Catalogue
Making Selections


  1. How does it compare to other co-ops in Japan?

    1. I'm not really sure, Pal System is the only co-op I've ever used. But I'm still very happy with it!