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For dairy farmers in Gujarat and fruit growers in Masschusetts, joining a co-operative means better access to markets.
Across the world, food producers are pooling resources to increase their clout on the global market. Amul is a giant dairy farmers’ co-operative in the Indian state of Gujarat. Every day, over three million milk farmers supply milk through more than 15,000 individual co-ops, making Amul India’s largest food products marketing organisation. Over 70% of its suppliers are small, marginal farmers and landless labourers.
Amul provides dairy farmers with a ready market for their milk, a large proportion of which is processed into a range of butter, ice cream, sweets and other milk-based products. Amul is now the biggest brand of vegetarian cheese in the world.
A similar movement has been gathering momentum in the US for almost a century. Back in 1930, three ambitious, competing American cranberry growers from Massachusetts and New Jersey came together to discuss how best they could expand their market. They found they could do so more effectively by working together, sharing their growing expertise, resources and marketing knowledge.
Today, the Ocean Spray co-operative includes over 600 grower members, employing 2,000 people across the US and Canada. Its cranberry juices are a global brand, stocked in retailers across the UK, with a net revenue in excess of $1.6 billion. - Simon Birch