NCGA Board Envisions Big Picture

The National Cooperative Grocers Association board of directors met recently to build a framework and long-term vision for the organization, as we move into our second full year of operation in 2001. Using the principles of policy governance, the NCGA board crafted some draft "Ends statements" to define what they would like the organization to accomplish in coming years.

The draft statements follow.

The food co-op industry is sustainable:

  • virtual chain
  • cooperative network
  • retail excellence
  • visionary leadership
  • co-ops valued by consumers
  • efficient use of resources

Further defined, these statements reflect what NCGA members expect from their national efforts at collaboration. To create a virtual chain, we will emphasize opportunities to leverage purchasing power and share resources, while striving to foster consistent consumer trust in the quality of products and services within the food co-op network.

As a cooperative network, we will focus and build upon the sharing of information and best practices between many individual retailers and regional Cooperative Grocers Associations. With a developed and unified purpose, our individual stores will be linked to a greater infrastructure that supports our impact in each of our communities and enables the system to expand.

If our collaboration can further support retail excellence, manifested in consistently profitable and successful businesses, food co-ops can expand their market share and perpetuate cooperative principles with adequate skills, capital and resources.

We hope that visionary leadership inspires big possibilities for collaboration and that this vision encompasses the whole system of retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and providers. With effort at all levels of our industry, consumers will gain further trust in the unique and valuable services that food co-ops provide, and food co-ops will be visible to more people nationwide. Co-ops valued by consumers ultimately means that more and more consumers are knowledgeable about co-ops and prefer co-ops as a food source.

An efficient use of resources is a complicated endeavor and could take a variety of forms, such as a national marketing campaign; centralized non-core business services such as insurance, payroll and accounting; a consolidated web presence; staff utilized efficiently by spreading expertise among several stores; and a focused use of capital for further development of the food co-op sector.

These are big plans and lofty ambitions for a new and evolving organization. I have been personally impressed with the membership and directors of NCGA and their ambition and willingness to tackle these objectives head-on.

One example of our willingness to take significant risks for commensurate rewards is the national Co-op brand of products. After meeting with most of the regional CGA groups this fall, I am encouraged by the level of support and enthusiasm for proceeding. Committee work on the ownership structure of the Co-op label business begins in January, and the subsidiary will be operating through spring to have product on retail shelves by Co-op Month in October 2001. Commitment to launch this program marks a major step toward many of the outcomes mentioned above, in retailer willingness to elevate their support of and trust in each other to a national effort and structure. Although there is much more to do and many issues to be resolved, it feels like a terrific beginning, and I am pleased to be a part of it.

For more on the Co-op label, contact Robynn Shrader at 319/466-9029; or [email protected]. Membership in the subsidiary product co-op is open to any food co-op, regardless of affiliation with a CGA organization.

National Cooperative Grocers Association is on-line at
Members have access to:
* Daily industry news feeds that are specific to natural foods issues, food retailing, and co-ops
* News briefs from CGAs, member co-ops, and industry providers
* A calendar of happenings in the food co-op community, with easy access for any member or affiliate to post events
* CGA Talk! -- a private, threaded discussion forum for retailers and industry providers
* An event search tool for industry-specific conferences, seminars, trade shows and management training
* Online financial calculators to assist in making financial decisions
* Additional features planned in 2001

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