As the theme of Expo 2015 – “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” suggests, much attention is being paid to agricultural practices and food systems, but how well do we understand the impact and role cooperatives play in ensuring high quality products, decent wages, and sustainable development? Despite the large share of agricultural production around the world organized in the cooperative form, data on this type of enterprise is still scarce. The World Co-operative Monitor, an International Co-operative Alliance and Euricse project, seeks to address this gap. And the latest World Co-operative Monitor data shows an increase in total turnover of the top 30 cooperatives in the Agriculture and Food Industries sector from 328.42 billion USD in 2011 to 401.16 billion USD in 2013, notwithstanding the global economic crisis. The data presented in the World Co-operative Monitor report is a beginning, but we need to continue to improve the quantity and quality of available data. Improved data and research on the sector can help academics and policy-makers alike to demonstrate the impact of cooperatives in the global agriculture and food industries sector.
This issue will be debated in the upcoming event ‘Co-operatives: Empowering People for Sustainable Development and Zero Hunger‘, a conference of the International Co-operative Alliance co-organized with Confcooperative, Ja Zenchu, CCW (Consumer Co-operatives Worldwide), ICAO (International Co-operative Agricultural Organization) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). At this event, taking place in Milan on July 12-14, 2015 on the occasion of the Universal Exposition, participants from all around the world will have the opportunity to network and exchange views on key issues, such as supporting rural communities, environmental sustainability, food waste, supply chain security and trade agreements. On the first day of the conference, Gianluca Salvatori (Euricse’s CEO) will present preliminary data and analysis on the largest agriculture and food industry cooperatives from the 2015 World Co-operative Monitor (forthcoming Autumn 2015).
The World Co-operative Monitor presentation will reference examples of studies that use data to measure the impact and performance of agricultural cooperatives. One of these, focused on agricultural cooperatives in Italy, is from Euricse’s forthcoming report on cooperation in Italy, “Economia cooperativa. Rilevanza, evoluzione e nuove frontiere della cooperazione italiana – 3° Rapporto Euricse” (The cooperative economy. Relevance, evolution and new frontiers in Italian cooperation – 3rd Euricse Report). In their chapter, titled “Quanto vale la cooperazione agricola italiana?” (What is the economic impact of Italian agricultural cooperatives?), Eddi Fontanari and Carlo Borzaga demonstrate how the impact of the agricultural sector is generally underestimated due to the consideration of solely the production value in the fields, ignoring the activities along the value chain. Fontanari and Borzaga use economic data from Italian agricultural cooperatives and a portion of their subsidiaries to reconstruct the overall value added of agricultural cooperatives in Italy, including all of the transformation and commercialization activities that are directly managed by agricultural cooperatives and their subsidiaries as well as the indirect and induced values in terms of economic impact and jobs. The findings reveal that the total value added directly generated by Italian agricultural cooperatives in 2012 is 12,557 million Euro instead of 9,379 million Euro as would be traditionally calculated. Once the indirect and induced impacts are also taken into account, the contribution to value added amounts to 29,199 million Euro.
More information and data will be available soon when the full Euricse report and the 2015 World Co-operative Monitor report are published this autumn. For more information or to learn how to participate in the monitor, visit www.monitor.coop or write to email@example.com.