National Co+op Grocers (NCG) announces the release of its 2021 Food Co-op Impact Report, celebrating the many ways food co-ops are working together to drive change in the food system and prioritize people’s wellbeing from the fields, to factories, cashiers to cooks.
At NCG, communities’ desire for good food brings 148 food co-ops together, whose leaders work together to elect their board and faithfully represent the goals and aspirations of 1.3 million food co-op members from communities across 38 states.
Food Co-ops as Employers
For the first time, the virtual chain offers a snapshot of food co-ops as employers. The average food co-op employs 96 people, 57% of whom are eligible for healthcare benefits, 13% higher than the national coverage rate for service employees (44%).
Of NCG’s 148 independent food co-ops, 58% pay all staff local livable wages and 66% of food co-ops contribute to staff retirement plans. Compare this to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics data, which reports that nationally, 40% of service employees have employer-sponsored retirement plans.
As food co-ops pursue a goal to have the diversity of their staff and leadership reflect their local communities, currently 95% of food co-ops report consensually and securely tracking staff demographic information and 76% track demographics for leadership. NCG offers education, training and support to empower food co-ops to make institutional changes to build inclusive and equitable employment culture.
Affordability and Local Sourcing
The report underscores the strength of cooperation when it comes to food co-ops’ ability to make natural and organic foods more affordable.
Co-ops’ popular Co+op Deals promotion program saves customers an average of 25%-off retail prices on a selection of more than 2000 brand name items on sale each month. The program complements their everyday high-quality, low-price Co+op Basics program, now 379 items strong.
Food co-ops are industry leaders when it comes to supporting local farmers and entrepreneurs. The average NCG food co-op purchases from 178 local farms and producers whose products make up 26% of a co-op’s total sales.
Building an Inclusive Economy and Climate Friendly Future
Food co-ops are still at the top of the marketplace when it comes to products that are better for people and environment.
NCG reports that 40% of food co-ops’ combined annual $2.4 billion sales come from Certified Organic products. NCG donated $90,000 to organizations advocating for organic agriculture in 2021.
Certified B Corp products made up 9% of the average food co-op’s total sales, higher than other natural grocers (7%) and conventional grocers’ sales (2%).
Fair Trade Certified products made up 5% of sales, higher than other natural grocery competitors (3%) and conventional grocers (0.5%).
While food co-ops work individually to reduce their carbon footprint, they also collaborate through NCG to reduce the negative environmental impact of their supply chain. Since 2012, food co-ops have been working with fair trade farmer co-ops in Peru to offset a portion of greenhouse gas emissions associated with annual business travel by planting and protecting trees in the Peruvian Amazon. The program – known as Co+op Forest – has helped plant and/or protect more than 1.8 million trees.
National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power and ultimately offer more value to food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 148 member co-ops operate more than 200 stores in 38 states with combined annual sales over $2.4 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.grocery.coop.