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94 Independent Natural Co-Ops Form Unified Organization

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Responding to a rapidly changing food industry and seeking to leverage their $626 million-a-year retail sales clout by speaking with one voice, 94 independent natural food co-ops with 111 retail locations among them coast-to-coast have voted to restructure the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) as a direct-membership cooperative.

"Thirty years ago, when this industry was just getting started, co-ops gave birth to and nurtured the natural foods market, using creative and innovative ways to bring organic and sustainable foods to the consumer's table," said Robynn Shrader, executive director of NCGA. "But as business has grown and larger players looked for bigger sales, single-store independents lost their clout.The NCGA reorganization restores and enhances this power for food co-ops."

"Our same-store volume continues to grow at a rate that exceeds our competitors," said Holly Jarvis, president of the NCGA board of directors. "Our move to a reorganized NCGA will provide us the necessary tools to continue our rates of growth for our existing and new members, and aid in the development of new cooperatives."

The new group further says a reorganized NCGA can achieve such benefits, because, together, "NCGA co-ops represent more than 400,000 member owners and millions of consumers, with vast potential impact from increased synergy," said Jarvis, adding that a single association of food co-ops "speaks volumes publicly and internally about a commitment to the future of food cooperatives and to each co-op's success. And one national organization will provide more benefit per dollar invested than multiple regional organizations splitting a similar amount of money."
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