Suma Wholefoods, Daily Bread Co-operative and The New Leaf Co-operative have been announced as the winners of the 2017 Co-operative of the Year awards.
Organised by Co-operatives UK and sponsored by the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, the awards saw people running and supporting co-operatives nominate their favourites for three categories and, after shortlisting, they voted for their favourite co-op in each one.
Suma Wholefoods was named Leading Co-operative of the Year 2017, Daily Bread Co-operative received the Growing Co-operative of the Year award and The New Leaf Co-op was named Inspiring Co-operative of the Year.
A wholesaler owned and run by its 160 employee members, Halifax-based Suma Wholefoods is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017 and this year was also awarded the Queen’s Enterprise award for exports.
“We are all really thrilled to get this recognition on our landmark birthday!” said Emma Robinson, Suma member.
“We believe that being a worker co-operative has given us the flexibility and resilience to grow and succeed as a business, and we’ve always kept the co-operative principles at the heart of what we do. The fact that so many people have voted for us to win this award is a real honour and a great morale boost for everyone at Suma.”
Values are also at the heart of Daily Bread, in Northampton, said manager John Clarke.
“As a worker co-op, Daily Bread is owned and controlled by its employees so it’s not accountable to outside shareholders and instead is able to concentrate on its core values – providing good quality wholefoods for its customers,” he added.
Daily bread was established nearly 40 years ago and prides itself on inspiring and supporting several worker-owned wholefood retailers.
Worker-owned New Leaf co-op is the youngest of the three winners, having been set up five years ago to offer high quality food in Edinburgh as part of a network of young people starting co-ops.
“It means the world to us to be voted Inspiring Co-op of the Year, and for that to be the result of a public vote means even more – we are over the moon!” said New Leaf’s Neus Giner Garcia.
“In the five years we have been open, we have always tried to push the boundaries: with our co-operative structure, our packaging-free shopping approach, and a hands-on sense of fun that helps people reconnect with their food.”
The awards were announced at the UK co-operative sector’s annual conference, Co-operative Congress, in Wakefield on 30 June.
“The Co-operative of the Year awards are a great way to celebrate the innovation and impact of co-ops large and small,” said Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK.
“The shortlist saw co-ops in digital and retail, farming and housing represented, reminding us just how diverse our 7,000 strong co-op sector is. Suma Wholefoods, Daily Bread Co-operative and The New Leaf Co-op are fantastic co-ops and demonstrate how co-ops are a practical way for businesses to be run in a fair and sustainable way.”