2023 WCM launch webinar explores the report’s key findings

01 Feb 2024

The ICA and the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (EURICSE) hosted a webinar on 25 January to present the main findings of the 2023 World Cooperative Monitor (WCM).

In its 12th edition, the WCM includes the Top 300 and sector rankings, employment data and a special report on member benefits. 

The data collected for the 2023 edition of the WCM, taken from the fiscal year 2021, shows that the world’s largest top 300 cooperatives continued to grow, registering a joint turnover of 2,4tn in 2021, up from US$2.17tn in 2020.

Webinar participants heard from a range of speakers, including ICA Director General, Jeroen Douglas, who said the WCM is a significant tool to evaluate cooperatives’ position and show their importance to policymakers and the wider public.

“The 12th edition of the World Cooperative Monitor serves therefore also as an action to stakeholders, and most importantly, it is a piece of tangible evidence of why it makes sense to again have an International Year of Cooperatives,” he said.

Hans Groeneveld, Director of International Cooperative Affairs at Rabobank and chair of ICETT, also provided an overview of what the cooperative identity means.

He explained that the strength of cooperative identity is determined by a range of interacting external and internal factors, including member value and advantages, a topic explored in a separate section in this year’s WCM. He added that cooperative benefits can be direct member benefits, indirect member benefits, collective benefits for the local community and benefits for society at large.

Some of these benefits were highlighted by Kelly Smith, senior director of marketing, communications and corporate relations of National Co+op Grocers (NCG) in the USA, who described the role of her organisation in supporting cooperative grocers in the USA. NCG has 161 members operating over 230 retail locations in 39 USA states. By joining NCG, they access a range of benefits, including an aggregated purchasing volume to negotiate strong national supply agreements, value-added programmes for the benefit of their current and future needs and efficient and effective services that are tailored to their unique needs.

“Our mission is to maximise our members’ success, inclusivity and impact and to grow the cooperative grocery size and scope in an environmentally regenerative manner,” she said.

The Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) is India is another example of a cooperative providing a range of benefits – in this case,to its farmer members.

Santosh Shukla, joint general manager, presented some of these benefits, such as a 20% dividend for farmer members, access to insurance products, and technical, financial and medical assistance to member cooperatives through its Cooperative Welfare Fund. Over the last three years alone, IFFCO has conducted 3,610 training programmes benefiting 71,676 farmers, who get taught which fertilisers to use through soil testing.

In addition to its section on cooperative member benefits, the 2023 WCM also includes two different Top 300 and sectoral rankings: one based on turnover and the other based on the ratio of turnover over Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

Paola Delvecchio, researcher, Euricse, presented some of the main findings. She explained that the world’s largest top 300 cooperatives continued to grow, registering a joint turnover of US$2.4tn in 2021, up from US$2.17tn in 2020.

Ranked in first place by turnover is Groupe Crédit Agricole from France ($117.901bn), followed by retailer REWE Group from Germany ($82.03bn), the Groupe BPCE from France ($66.06bn), Nonghyup (National Agricultural Cooperative Federation – NACF from the Republic of Korea ($61.17bn), and ACDLEC Leclerc from France ($60.56bn).

The cooperative topping the ranking based on turnover over gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is IFFCO, which is followed by another Indian business, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation; financial cooperative Groupe Crédit Agricole; healthcare cooperative Sistema Unimed from Brazil; and Copersucar SA also from Brazil.

Describing the thematic analysis of the cooperative member benefits, Ms Delvecchio said the research demonstrates that large cooperatives and mutuals explicitly convey their identity as cooperatives or mutuals to varying degrees.

“With this project, we are sharing knowledge about creating movement,” she said.

She encouraged participants to create national rankings and continue to engage with Euricse.

“It's really important to share and spread the word because we are collecting data about the biggest cooperatives but every single datum we collect is important,” she added.

Gianluca Salvatori, Secretary General of Euricse, echoed her call, asking cooperatives around the world to “fully embrace” the importance of producing quality data.

“We need an ambitious programme to spread the culture of data within the cooperative world,” he said.

Mr Salvatori encouraged cooperatives to use the opportunity brought by the UN proclaiming 2025 as an International Year of Cooperatives to assert their role in the knowledge and data economy.

He concluded by saying that EURICSE is ready to support any cooperative organisations wishing to collect data.

The full webinar recording is available here.

Check out the 2023 WCM here!

Photo: Seward Food Co-op, Minneapolis, National Co+op Grocers member.