New research which compares French co-operatives to those in Europe and other countries puts them ahead of those in Germany, Japan and the US.
Conducted by economist Olivier Frey for apex Coop FR, the paper looks at the 2014 Global Census on Co-operatives published by United Nation’s Secretariat Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which measured the size and scope of the co-operative economy in the world.
The World Cooperative Monitor also provides an analysis of the economic (turnover, sectors of activity) and social (employment) weight of the 100 largest co-operatives at the European and global level.
Mr Frey’s research found that French co-ops represent 25% of the global turnover of the top 100 worldwide, with US$344.75bn, ahead of Germany (15.9%), Japan (11%) and the USA (10.1%).
Meanwhile at European level, French co-ops represent with 36.6% of the top 100 co-ops by turnover. The study also found that in 2019, out of 100 largest co-operative enterprises in Europe, 23 were French, 14 were German and 12 were Dutch.
The world’s 100 largest co-operatives employ almost three million people, 2.5 million of which are in Europe. France is the second nation in the world top 100 in terms of employment with 613,351 employees in 13 co-operative enterprises. Germany comes first with 857,964 employees and Switzerland is third with 223,522 employees.
The research points out that French co-operatives have been covered by the same law for over 75 years. Their operations are regularly audited, through what is known as the “révision coopérative” – a co-operative audit.
At global level the most represented sectors of activity among the 100 largest co-operatives are agriculture and agri-food, trade and banking; but in France trading co-ops are the most important in terms of turnover. The country’s agricultural and agri-food co-operatives and co-operative banks also have a significant weight.
The report also points out that new sectors related to the ecological transition and digital platforms are emerging. It also adds that some of these sectors might enter the top 100 in the future, such as co-operative platforms, energy co-operatives, health co-operatives or healthy food co-operatives.
Other co-operative networks aim to radically transform the economy, such as Licoornes in France.