In urban areas where people have no direct access to farms and the countryside, consumer groups can be very worthwhile. Since most organic food is more expensive than non-organic, many families think they can’t afford it.
Consumer groups and cooperatives and other forms of buying clubs help to bring prices down and encourage consumers to ‘go organic’.
These consumer groups consist of groups of people pooling their financial resources in order to purchase bulk foods at wholesale prices. Consumer groups equate to buying power.
Consumer cooperatives vary in how they are run, but most fall into two types. The first, purchases organic food products from a cooperative wharehouse of which the group becomes a member The second type works in conjunction with a retail distributor by initially making special orders through a retailer, then negotiating a direct relationship with the distributor.
The advantages of consumer cooperatives from a farmer’s perspective include:
- stable, non-volatile market
- high growth potential
- farmer gets high portion of food dollars
- small farmer investment
- farmers are consumers too
Potential issues for farmers to bear in mind:
- requires organization of or by consumers
- high degree of management required
- staff/personnel issues
- legal responsibilities
- formal organization with rules and regulations, just like a grocery shop.