World’s top 300 co-ops had a joint turnover of 2.18tn in 2019

Top co-op by turnover is French bank Groupe Crédit Agricole; top co-op by turnover over GDP per capita is India’s agri business IFFCO

The 2021 edition of the World Co-operative Monitor shows that the world’s 300 largest co-operatives had a combined turnover of US$2.18tn in 2019, an increase from US$2.14tn in 2018.

Published by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) with the scientific and technical support of the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse), the monitor presents rankings based on turnover as well as the ratio of turnover over gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. 

The 2021 edition is based on data collected in 2019, including annual and sustainability reports, existing economic databases, data from national associations, research institutes and other organisations, and a questionnaire sent to enterprises.

The majority of enterprises in the Top 300 by turnover operate in the agri and food retail sectors (121). Mutuals also make up a large proportion of the top 300 (78). Another 11 are non-co-operatives controlled by co-operatives, four are worker cooperatives and two are multi-stakeholder cooperatives.

The Top 300 based on turnover over GDP per capita has similar results but features more worker cooperatives (10 enterprises).

Most of the top 300 by turnover are based in the more industrialised countries, but the top 300 by turnover over GDP per capita are spread over a larger number of countries.

The largest co-ops based on turnover are co-operative bank Groupe Crédit Agricole from France ($114.55bn), co-operative banking group Groupe BPCE from France ($63.32bn) and retailer REWE Group from Germany ($61.98bn).

These are followed by Cooperative Financial Network Germany – BVR with $56.29bn and National Federation Of Agricultural Cooperative Associations – ZEN-NOH from Japan with $55.13bn.

The ranking based on the ratio of turnover over gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is topped by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) (3.905), followed by Groupe Crédit Agricole from France and Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation from India.

Special focus on SDGs

This year’s Monitor also evaluates the top 300 in terms of environmental sustainability, human rights and equitable growth, based on the sustainability reports of those that adhere to the United Nation Global Compact project and/or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

It found that 72 out of the 300 had joined at least one of the two initiatives: nine joined both initiatives, 34 have solely adopted the GRI standards and 29 joined only the United Nations Global Compact.

All the 43 organisations that adopted the GRI indicators released a sustainability report applying the GRI standards, while 34 of the 38 organisations that joined the UN Global Compact project declared they address at least one of the SDGs in their Communication on Progress (CoP).

The ICA is developing a common reporting system that co-ops can use to prove their collective power in achieving the SDGs., followin initial discussion this week at the 33rd World Cooperative Congress 2021 in Seoul.

Co-operatives and Covid-19

To explore the co-operative response to Covid-19, the Monitor carried out 29 interviews with large co-operatives around the world, revealing key principles such as supporting members and local communities.

The Monitor includes a series of examples of how co-ops came to the aid of their communities, from donating PPE and medical supplies to building oxygen plants and providing customised services for vulnerable customers.

Sector rankings

Leading the sector rankings based on turnover are: the Japanese Zen-Noh (agriculture and food); Spain’s Corporación Mondragón (industry and utilities); Germany’s REWE Group (wholesale and retail trade); Japan’s Nippon Life (Insurance); France’s Groupe Crédit Agricole (financial services) Brazil’s Sistema Unimed (education, health and social work); Japan’s Nihon Delica Foods Association (other services)

ICA director general Bruno Roelants said: “The World Cooperative Monitor remains a significant tool for the global co-operative movement, helping it not only evaluate its own positioning but also highlight the importance of co-operatives to the general public and policy makers.

“Over the last 10 years the Monitor has helped to deepen our understanding of various co-operative sectors and areas of impact.”

Gianluca Salvatori, Euricse secretary general, said: “Over the course of these ten years, the World Cooperative Monitor has helped us analyse and deepen our understanding of the largest co-operative enterprises. The scientific rigour, along with contributions from cooperatives sharing their experiences, has rendered the report a valuable tool for the co-operative movement and beyond.”