National Co+op Grocers recently issued its 2020 Food Co-op Impact Report, which details the positive effects of the community-owned stores.

Victoria A.F. Camron, Digital content specialist

May 7, 2021

3 Min Read
National Co+op Grocers 2020 Food Co-op Impact Report Getty
Getty Images

Food co-ops are good for their communities, according to the most recent Food Co-op Impact report issued by National Co+op Grocers.

NCG has the data to prove it.

An umbrella organization that provides business services for its 147 member retail co-ops, NCG analyzed data from SPINS and its proprietary sustainability software to determine how food co-ops support local farms, make healthy food affordable, back community nonprofits and work to improve the environment.

National Co+op Grocers also works in Washington, D.C., informing agencies and Congress on issues such as organic agriculture, the climate crisis and racial justice. NCG partners with advocacy groups like National Organic Coalition, Organic Trade Association, National Cooperative Business Association and National Farm to School Network on common goals in these areas, according to Eric Davis, a spokesman for NCG.

The information in the report reflects only the co-ops that belong to NCG, which is about 80% of all co-ops across the country, Davis wrote in an email. NCG-associated co-ops have approximately 1.3 members and are located in 38 states. Here are some highlights of the report.

National Co+op Grocers 2020 Food Co-op Impact Report Getty

Keeping it local

Co-ops establish strong relationships with local farmers, which allowed many co-ops to keep plenty of meat, produce, eggs and milk available for consumers in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-ops also provided a market for products that farmers would have sold to restaurants after they were closed.

National Co+op Grocers 2020 Food Co-op Impact Report Getty

Providing healthy, affordable food

Many co-ops offer needs-based discounts or low-price memberships so low-income residents can access the healthy, organic food available at co-ops. Through NCG, co-ops lobby the federal government to provide more funds for food programs.

NCG uses the purchasing power of its combined members to negotiate distribution contracts, create lines of private label products and establish promotions with national brands—all of which help reduce the cost of food for local co-op members.

National Co+op Grocers 2020 Food Co-op Impact Report Getty

Supporting the community

Co-ops host events and provide space for local nonprofits to raise awareness of their causes, but they also support those organizations through register round-up programs, reusable bag credits, food drives and more.

NCG is starting a supplier diversity program to make more BIPOC-owned products available in local co-ops. In addition, it's lobbying for programs that will support migrant and seasonal farm workers during the pandemic, reform the USDA's practices to create opportunity for Black farmers, and reserve funding for minority-owned financial institutions.

National Co+op Grocers 2020 Food Co-op Impact Report Getty

Saving the planet

Co-ops are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by installing solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and the latest refrigeration technology. They also advocate for organic agriculture to be included in federal climate change policy.

NCG funded research to inform Congress about the potential of organic agriculture in mitigating climate change.

About the Author(s)

Victoria A.F. Camron

Digital content specialist, New Hope Network

Victoria A.F. Camron was a freelance writer and editor contracted with New Hope Network from 2015 until April 2022, when she was hired as New Hope Network's digital content specialist—otherwise known as the web editor.

As she continues the work she has done for years—covering the natural products industry for and Natural Foods Merchandiser; writing up earnings calls and other corporate news; and curating roundups of trends and information for the website—she is thrilled to be an official part of the New Hope team. (She doesn't mind having paid holidays and vacations again, though!) Victoria also compiled and edited newsletters, and served as interim content director for Delicious Living in 2016.

Before working as a freelancer, she spent 17 years in community newspapers in Longmont, Colorado, and St. Charles and Wheaton, Illinois. Victoria is a Colorado native and a graduate of Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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