How do I start a food cooperative
Bavarian cooperatives in the shopping basket
More and more consumers prefer local food. Many rural cooperatives in Bavaria are benefiting from this trend. You have been producing and distributing food from the region for decades. A look into a symbolic shopping basket shows where Bavarian cooperatives are behind it.
Regardless of whether it's vegetables, cheese, meat, beer or wine: Bavaria's cooperatives not only sell food, but also a piece of home.
It all started with Alfons Schuhbeck: When the TV chef published “The New Bavarian Cookbook” in 1989, consumers learned to appreciate regional products. “The focus of the book was on dishes made with ingredients from the region. People liked that, ”says Monika Gerschau, Professor of Agricultural Marketing at the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences. What Schuhbeck initiated back then quickly developed into a sure-fire success.
Regional foods are now a “megatrend”, as Ulrich Hamm puts it. The agricultural marketing professor from the University of Kassel examined the reasons for this development. More and more consumers want authentic products instead of interchangeable fast food. And if necessary, they want to be able to get an idea of the production conditions of the food on site, says the scientist.
According to the Bavarian Ministry of Agriculture, the trend towards more regionalism is particularly pronounced in the Free State. Around 3,500 agricultural businesses market their agricultural products directly. There are 350 farmers' markets in Germany, a good half of them in Bavaria. And: two out of three consumers buy regional foods several times a month.
The food retail sector has long since jumped on the bandwagon: Almost all retail chains and even the discounters have developed regional marketing concepts with the origin of products and traceability of the products to the consumer. "In times of globalization, concentration and internet trade, they use the opportunity to stand out from the competition in this way," says Gerschau.
Significant role of cooperatives in food distribution
This trend benefits the Bavarian cooperatives, for which regionality has always been in their genes. They play an important role in the production and distribution of regional foods. Many of them are embedded in historically evolved structures that enable members and cooperatives to operate effectively. The range of cooperative enjoyment is large. To show this, let's fill a symbolic shopping cart.
It starts with breakfast. Milk, butter and cheese from the refrigerated shelf often come from a cooperative milk processing company, such as the Berchtesgadener Land dairy, BMI eG or Allgäu Milch Käse eG. They all successfully rely on regionality. “Many people are regionally oriented and value tradition, especially in the countryside. The cooperative dairy farms are also economically important for the Free State. Last year they turned over a total of around 2.9 billion euros.
It continues with the cooperative shopping tour. Can you have a juicy goulash or roast pork for dinner? It is quite possible that the meat comes from a Bavarian cattle and meat cooperative. Together with the breeding cooperatives, the twelve farms generated sales of around 645 million euros last year.
Companies like Tagwerk eG or Simsseer Weidefleisch eG occupy a niche in the butcher's trade. They process the animals immediately after slaughter while they are still warm. This keeps the meat more tender. Both cooperatives attach great importance to the fact that the animals are kept in a species-appropriate manner and that they come from the area. The demand is great.
Cooperative food production with a pure ecological balance
Paprika and onions for goulash, for example, are produced by the member companies of Franken-Gemüse Knoblauchsland eG. Because they rely on short transport routes and heat their greenhouses with renewable energy, the ecological balance of these products is also right. The starch of the potato dumplings was probably made at Südstark in Schrobenhausen. The cooperative group of companies processes around a third of the potato harvest in the Free State into starch products.
Do you fancy a light meal with goulash? The twelve brewery cooperatives in the Free State stand for regional beer specialties, for example the monastery brewery Reutberg eG or the PrivatBrauerei Gut Forsting eG. In 2016 committed citizens of Oberhachingen founded a cooperative to brew their own beer. Since then, they have brewed new varieties several times. The latest creation from the Oberhaching brewery is a Maibock.
Regional ingredients have always played a major role in brewing. The hops almost certainly come from the Hop Processing Cooperative in Wolnzach. But the malting barley is also mostly obtained from nearby. "We can find all the ingredients we need for brewing in the region," says Jochen Haas, sales manager at the cooperative Hutthurm brewery. "We can grow rampant with this pound."
Those who prefer to drink a strong red wine with their goulash will also find what they are looking for at the Bavarian cooperatives. There are six wine cooperatives in the Free State, large ones like Divino Nordheim Thüngersheim eG, or small ones like the Escherndorf wine cooperative. In 2016 they put together around 86 million euros. When it comes to wine, the regional origin has always been decisive, says Paul E. Ritter, managing director of the Winzergemeinschaft Franken eG (GWF). Every wine is as individual as its location. “There is no more regionality than with the product wine,” says Ritter.
Cooperatives do not produce food, they also sell it
This shopping tour shows that many of the foods produced in Bavaria are backed by cooperatives. But they not only produce the food, they also sell it. One example is the dairy cooperatives, which market their cheese in stores, but also in their own online shop. Cooperative village shops like the one in Vogtareuth near Rosenheim also play an important role as local suppliers for their surroundings.
In agriculture, Raiffeisen-Warenhandel supplies the farmers with seeds and all the resources they need and takes the harvest from them. "For the food industry, the food trade and the food trade, Raiffeisen cooperatives are important partners along the entire value chain from the stable or field to the shop counter," says Henning Ehlers, General Manager of the German Raiffeisen Association.
The 61 credit unions with goods division and the 35 Raiffeisen trading companies in Bavaria achieved a total turnover of almost 1.2 billion euros in 2016. In addition to the standard range, many Raiffeisen markets also offer food from the region, such as eggs, pasta and sausages.
A prime example of a cooperative value chain is the way from grain to bread. First the farmer delivers his wheat to the Raiffeisen goods trade. He sells the grain to a regional mill that works closely with the baker's and confectioner's cooperatives (Bäko).
“Regionality is also a big topic at the bakeries,” says Günter Kolb, sales manager at Bäko Franken Oberbayern-Nord. “We get well over 90 percent of our flour from mills in Franconia.” In the Bäko member companies, the flour and many other ingredients are then used to make rolls or cakes. That, too, is cooperative enjoyment.
The article appeared in the April issue of "Profil - the Bavarian Cooperative Gazette".
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