Co-op Basics: International

Cooperatives are a major factor globally in improving the lives of member owners.  The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), http://www.ica.coop, was formed in 1985 and represents the largest secular movement in the world.  In the words of UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue economic viability and social responsibility.”  The ICA's 2012 global Year of the Cooperative culminated in a Quebec co-op summit, reported in "Paradigm for a New Economy," by Patricia Cumbie; her report is linked below under Related Content.

National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), http://www.ncba.coop, is the multi-sector cooperative that defends and advances the interests of cooperatives domestically and internationally, representing U.S. co-ops to the ICA. 

Many article on international cooperatives can be found through a search of the Library archives of past articles in Cooperative Grocer.  Following are some noteworthy examples of cooperative developments in other countries; each of these articles is linked below under Related Content:

The global fair trade movement has been based on consumer and producer cooperatives; a 2009 article, "An Evolution in the Coffee Aisle," linked below under Related Content, provides a summary overview.

Canada has major co-op sectors, including the Maritime Provinces’ Co-op Atlantic system, summarized during a 2003 period of difficult transition in a 2003 report, "When Weather Gets Rough, Co-ops Are Tough," by Tom Webb. On food/farm co-ops in the Ontario region, see the Ontario Federation of Food Co-ops: http://cultivatingfoodcoops.net.  On Federated Cooperatives, which operates the largest consumer cooperative in North America, visit http://www.coopconnection.ca

In Cuba, the agricultural and food sector is transitioning to independent cooperatives. Two food co-op managers, John Eicholz and Patti Waters, visited in 2012 and wrote a report, "Cuban Cooperatives Advance and Diversify."  This and other articles mentioned below are linked at bottom under Related Content. 

Outside the Cuba and Canada reports, most of the following international cooperative profiles are credited to David Thompson.

In Italy, consumer co-ops are market leaders, and in the north Emilia-Romagna has among the world’s strongest cooperative sectors.  Reports linked below under Related Content include: "Building the Future" and "Italy's Co-ops Draw Strong Public Support," as well as "Italy's Emilia Romagna."  

Japan is home to the largest consumer co-op sector; linked below are three reports:  "At 50, Japanese Co-ops Emphasize Education and Food Safety," "Japan: Land of Cooperatives," and "Japan Co-ops Endure Recession and Innovate."

Spain is home to the world’s largest worker-owned cooperative complex, centered in Mondragon and the Basque region.  Its Eroski division is now the second-largest grocery retailer in Spain. Linked below are 2004 reports covering the Eroski expansion.  Visit the Mondragon website at http://www.mondragoncorporation.com.

In the United Kingdom, consumer cooperatives have been both expanding and merging, and The Co-operative Group is now the nation's largest farmer.  Three reports from the U.K. are linked below, "U.K. Cooperatives on the Move," and "Acquisition Nearly Doubles the U.K. Cooperative Sector," and "Farming Cooperatively."

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