A Fresh Alternative in the Grocery Landscape
NCGA Helps Food Co-ops Meet the Needs of Owner-Shoppers and their Communities
During the recent recession, food co-ops were able to ease the effects of the economy on their owner-shoppers in ways that conventional grocers couldn’t, such as lowering prices, or at least postponing price increases. Co-ops that are members of NCGA, however, have additional tools and resources that help them meet their owner-shoppers’ needs, in both good times and bad.
For example, NCGA helps food co-ops be more competitive by offering purchasing programs for both core and non-core suppliers. The organization also conducts powerful marketing programs, including branded packaging, in-store support materials and national consumer events and promotions. On an organizational level, NCGA meets members’ needs for management and staff training and development by offering a variety of conferences and online training resources. In addition, NCGA’s Development Coop (DC), a wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in 2008, provides individualized support for business improvement, expansions/relocations and new food co-op development.
NCGA and its members are achieving results on multiple levels. In 2011, members enjoyed a gain on investment in NCGA of $3.3 million, up 36 percent from the year before, while NCGA’s net assets grew 32 percent. At the same time, NCGA and its members are making a difference in worker compensation; average hourly wages are $0.70 higher than at conventional grocers — while featuring benefit packages that are often as much as 25 percent more valuable to workers.
Last but not least, food co-ops have a far more direct effect on their local economies. According to a recent NCGA survey, food co-ops purchase from twice the number of local food producers as conventional grocers, and more than two-fifths ($0.41) of every dollar spent at a food co-op supports the local economy, compared to just $0.22 at a conventional grocer.