Food co-ops are all about better food, stronger communities and a healthier world. They have a big impact on their communities and local foods. It’s because co-ops are owned and governed by member-shoppers and rooted in principles like community, voluntary and open membership, economic participation and cooperation.
The study, Healthy Foods Healthy Communities: The Social and Economic Impacts of Food Co-ops, quantifies the impact food co-ops have as compared to conventional grocery stores:
- Local Economic Impact: The study finds that for every $1 spent at a food co-op, 38¢ is reinvested in the local economy, compared to 24¢ at conventional stores.
- Support Local Foods: Food co-ops are all about local foods and support local producers in a big way — Locally sourced products make up an average of 20% of co-op sales but 6% at conventional stores. Food co-ops work with an average of 157 local producers , while conventional stores work with an average of 65 .
- Healthy Foods: Years after creating the market for organic foods, co-ops are still the place to find them. Of produce sales at food co-ops, 82% are organic, compared to 12 % for conventional stores. Organics make up 48% of grocery sales in food co-ops, compared to just 2% in conventional grocers.
- Environmental Stewardship: All grocery stores generate a significant amount of waste. What sets food co-ops apart is what they do with that waste. Co-ops recycle 74% of food waste and 81% of plastics compared to 36% and 29%, respectively, recycled by conventional grocers.