The numbers of cooperative business models are increasing daily. These business models are especially successful in the food sector, as well as many others, like housing. 

The difference between a cooperative and traditional business models are really clear. In a cooperative, the partners agree with local or nearby producers to buy products according to a certain amount, special prices that are in any case fair, and other characteristics. Some conditions may vary depending on the agreements of the parts. On the other hand the cooperatives make sure to deliver their best seasonal and (normally) organic products. The cooperative group is on charge of selling, delivering and promoting the products in case this is considered necessary.

7 advantages of buying from a cooperative

  1. Quality. Producers are responsible for delivering their products with certain standards of quality and conditions. This means consumers can enjoy a better quality of products, that can be organic, from local resources, seasonal and fair priced.
  2. Trust. The cooperative´s role is also to ensure where the products come from, regarding the quality, the fairness and the sustainability.
  3. Transparent markets. Eliminating intermediates can be successful for the producers that see their profit margin grow.
  4. Innovate products. In this business model it is also important to deliver a big range of products based on society’s needs of consumption.
  5. Environmentally friendly. Products don’t travel long distances, in fact the idea is to avoid this issue. Also cooperatives pay attention to other environmental aspects such as keeping rural areas productive in the long term and avoid desertification of rural areas. 
  6. Create jobs in rural areas. Supporting small farmers and producers so they can also compete with big corporations, creating jobs in areas where this has been an issue in the past decades.
  7. Improve their activities. Belonging to a cooperative also means belonging to a bigger group where to find guidance, help from other small companies and where to learn from the best practices. This is also a huge benefit for the customer.

Some examples of cooperatives in Italy

In order to promote this kind of business I would like to highlight three cooperatives that operate in Italy, in case you’d like to support this kind of business.

  • L´alveare che dice si. It is a cooperative that works all over Italy. The cooperative not only offers fruits and vegetables from agriculture, but also other artisanal products. 
  • Coop La Lucerna. This cooperative mainly works online, offering a big amount of products depending on your needs. They have a certification of organic products recognised by the European Union. 
  • Cooperativa Agricola Palazzetti. In this case the cooperative is based in Bergamo, although they offer products from all over Italy depending on the needs and the production seasons.

As an alternative, there is also the option of contacting small local producers nearby or even growing your own vegetables and fruits on somebody else’s farm. There are many social projects like Anima Franca, started by HRYO, that offer this possibility.