Top 300 co-operatives are worth over 2 trillion

The world’s top 300 co-operatives have continued to grow, achieving an overall turnover of USD $2,097 billion in 2011. Released this week at the Global Conference and General...

The world’s top 300 co-operatives have continued to grow, achieving an overall turnover of USD $2,097 billion in 2011. The results of the survey confirm an increase from 2010, when the world’s top 300 co-operatives, distributed in 24 countries, had a turnover of USD $1,975 billion.

Released at the Global Conference of the International Co-operative Alliance, the World Co-operative Monitor collected data on the world’s largest co-operatives as of 2011.

By applying the Global300 methodology to data collected by the World Co-operative Monitor, the ICA, with the support of EURICSE, identified the top 300 co-operatives and mutuals in terms of revenue. This exercise revealed that the world’s top 300 co-operative and mutual organisations, spread across 23 countries, were worth over USD $ 2 trillion.

Over 41 per cent of these co-operatives were active in the insurance sector, followed by agriculture (28 per cent), wholesale (21 per cent) and banking and insurance (5 per cent).

According to the Monitor, the largest three co-operative and mutual organisations by turnover were based in Japan: Zenkyoren (USD $81 billion), Zen-Noh (USD $52 billion) and Nippon Life (USD $61 billion). The US insurer and financial services provider, State Farm Group (USD $57 billion) came fourth, while German wholesale and retail co-operative Rewe Group (USD $52 billion) was the fifth largest co-operative by turnover.

Apart from monitoring the economic impact of the sector, EURICSE also focused on the social dimension of the sector by showcasing some of the most successful co-operatives in the world. Case studies include one of Indonesia’s largest co-operatives, Koperasi Warga, Canadian insurance co-operative, The Co-operators, and Finnish retailer, SOK Corporation.

In the US the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association serves over 42 million customers, bringing electricity to millions of rural homes. The Monitor also reveals how Unimed is helping over 19 million Brazilian customers gain access to health services. Founded in 1967, Unimed is now the largest network of medical co-operatives in the world and the country’s biggest private healthcare provider.

Gianluca Salvatori, the CEO of the European Research Institute on Cooperative (EURICSE) explained that without a good knowledge of the co-op sector based on accurate data, the movement would lack visibility within the business world, policy makers and the public.

“If we do not have the right comprehension of the co-op movement it is difficult to make any strategic planning for the future,” adds Mr Salvatori.

Although the Monitor does not currently include data on co-operative legislation, Mr Salvatori says that EURICSE is considering including new criteria of assessing the impact of the movement in the coming years.

EURICSE encourages co-operators from all over the world to fill in the survey and contribute to the Global Cooperative Monitor database on

The database

The Monitor gathers data on 2,032 co-operatives from across 56 countries. It shows that 1,465 co-operatives from 42 countries had a turnover over USD $100 million in 2011. Out of these, 31 per cent are operating in insurance, 28 per cent in agriculture and 22 per cent in wholesale.

With a turnover of co-operatives of USD $662.23 billion USA is the country with the biggest total turnover of co-operatives over USD $100 million.

The biggest co-operative sector was agriculture, accounting for 32 per cent of these co-operatives, followed by insurance (25 per cent), wholesale and retail trade (18 per cent), industry (9 per cent), banking (6 per cent), health and social care (3 per cent) and other services (6 percent). The 645 co-operatives distributed in 25 countries had a total turnover of USD $582 billion in 2011, Japan’s Zen-Hoh being the largest agricultural co-operative in the world by turnover.

The retail sector has also continued to grow, with 372 co-operatives distributed in 26 countries, with a total turnover in 2011 of US $539.72 billion. Some of the largest co-operatives in the wholesale and retail trade sector included ReWe Group from Germany (USD $52 billion), ACDLEC from France (USD $49 billion), Edeka Zentrale from Germany (USD $30 billion) and Coop Swiss from Switzerland (USD $29 billion). The Co-operative Group came seventh with USD $23 billion turnover.

To assess the performance of the industry and utilities sector, EURICSE collected data from 185 co-operatives from across 27 countries, with a total turnover in 2011 of USD $84.42 billion. The largest co-operative in this sector by turnover was Mondragon Corporation (USD $19 billion), also the largest business group in the Basque Country and the seventh largest in Spain.

Another sector where co-operatives continued to expand was health and social care. The Monitor shows how 27 co-operatives distributed in 11 countries across the world had a total turnover of USD $19.98 billion in 2011.

In the banking sector the 126 co-operative banks, credit unions and other financial co-operatives from across 27 countries experienced a total net banking income of USD $176.6 billion. Seventy-six out of these had a net banking income of over USD $100 million. The top three largest co-operatives in the banking and financial services sector come from France – Crédit Agricole (USD $45 billion), Groupe BPCE (USD $30) and Groupe Crédit Mutuel, while Canadian credit union Desjardins came fourth. The Dutch multinational banking and financial services company Rabobank came fifth, with nearly USD $13 billion net banking income.

Mutual and co-operative insurers have also continued to expand, particularly in Japan and the USA, countries with the five largest insurance co-operatives and mutuals by premium income.

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