October is National Co-op Month, a time to reflect on the values and principles that make community-owned co-ops unique. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of the wonderful cooperative partners whose products you’ll find on our shelves. Not only do these businesses make delicious food and drinks, they do so democratically while contributing to thriving cooperative economies and providing just working conditions. By retaining social and economic capital respective to their local communities, these co-ops are successful examples of what’s capable when people come together to change the way business is done.
Equal Exchange (West Bridgewater, MA)
Equal Exchange is one of the largest democratic worker co-ops in the U.S. They have over 120 worker-owners, each with an equal stake – and an equal vote – in the business. Top level managers and entry-level employees own an identical share and receive an equal amount of any profits. Equal Exchange partners with over 40 small farmer organizations in North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia to source fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, and more.
Organic Valley (LaFarge, WI)
Started in 1988 by seven farmers, Organic Valley is now a producer cooperative comprised of 2,000 small family farms and 900 employees. Together, they pool their passions and resources to bring organic dairy products to your table. Their farmers share the costs of getting products to market and any profits when the company does well.
Frontier Co-op (Norway, IA)
Frontier began over 40 years ago as a small member-owned cooperative that sold herbs and spices to local food co-ops. Today, they’re owned by the stores and other organizations that buy and sell their products. Aura Cacia (essential oils, bath and body care products) is part of member-owned Frontier Co-op and shares in their values of nourishing people and planet, promoting sustainable sourcing initiatives, and supporting growers’ communities.
Just Coffee Co-op (Madison, WI)
Just Coffee is a small worker-owned coffee roaster comprised of 30 members. Their members are dedicated to creating and expanding a model of trade based on transparency, human dignity, and environmental sustainability.
Wisconsin Growers Co-op (Western WI)
Wisconsin Growers Cooperative was founded in 2006 by 20 local Amish families to maintain ownership of their farmland and collectively market their fresh produce. Comprised of approximately 25 small family farms in Western Wisconsin, the co-op’s members are dedicated to organic farming methods and practices without any use of fossil fuels.
Maple Valley Cooperative (Cashton, WI)
In 2007, Maple Valley Co-op was created with five classes of membership: Producers, Customers, Investors, Vendors, and Employees. The Organic Maple Cooperative was designed to represent all stakeholders while bringing you a socially responsible commodity (100% pure organic maple syrup) that supports family farmers, fair wages, transparency, accountability, and sustainable business practices.
Divine Chocolate (London, UK)
Divine is the only chocolate company in the world that is 100% Fairtrade. It is co-owned by over 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, a cooperative in Ghana that supplies Divine with fair trade cocoa for each bar. As partial owners, the cocoa farmers receive a share of business profit and a stronger voice in the global cocoa industry. Two seats on Divine’s board of directors are reserved for Kuapa Kokoo representatives.