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NZ’s Co-Operative Economy Mapped for the First Time

31 January 2017 at 4:44 pm
Lina Caneva
A new report mapping the size and scale of New Zealand’s cooperative economy has found the sector contributes revenues of more than $42.3 billion (A$40.8b) per annum to the country’s economy.

Lina Caneva | 31 January 2017 at 4:44 pm


NZ’s Co-Operative Economy Mapped for the First Time
31 January 2017 at 4:44 pm

A new report mapping the size and scale of New Zealand’s cooperative economy has found the sector contributes revenues of more than $42.3 billion (A$40.8b) per annum to the country’s economy.

As well, the top 30 cooperatives and mutuals are responsible for 1.4 million memberships, the employment of 48,500 people and a revenue to gross domestic product ratio of 17.5 per cent.

Of the top 30, the agri-food sector accounts for 65.2 per cent of revenue, 67.6 per cent of assets, and 82.8 per cent of employment in the co-operative economy. The next largest sector by revenue is retail and wholesale, accounting for 30.3 per cent.

The report, The New Zealand Co-operative Economy, is a collaboration between the sector body Cooperative Business New Zealand and researchers from Massey University and the University of Auckland.

Cooperative Business New Zealand chief executive Craig Presland said: “New Zealand’s cooperative economy has been comprehensively mapped for the first time, revealing the significance of the sector in terms of revenue, jobs and membership, as well as obvious differences between New Zealand’s and other co-operative economies.

“The cooperative ethos of working together collaboratively for the common good is part of who we are as New Zealanders, and as our new prime minister remarked at an industry forum last year: ‘Cooperatives are the business model that has stood the test of time.’”

Cooperatives and mutuals are organisations owned and controlled by their members and who distribute benefits based on use/patronage.

New Zealand examples include Fonterra, Foodstuffs, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Farmers Mutual Group and Southern Cross Medical Care Society.

Lead researcher Dr Elena Garnevska of Massey University said: “The results are a much needed glimpse into a sector of significant economic and social importance to the country and help us to better understand and promote the cooperative business model to policy makers, consultants and other stakeholders.

“With 1.4 million memberships the results show how much the co-operative economy is woven into the everyday lives of New Zealanders.

“Strikingly, the agri-food and retail and wholesale sectors account for twice as much of New Zealand’s co-operative economy compared to the World’s Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals and three times that of Australia’s Top 100.

“We expected the agrifoods sector would be important but we were surprised to find it is twice as much as the global situation.”

The study also revealed significant differences in New Zealand’s insurance, banking and finance sectors compared to overseas trends.

Globally, the insurance, banking and finance sector accounts for 45 per cent of revenue in the cooperative economy, whereas in New Zealand, it is only 3.4 per cent.

The report identified a wide variety of ways that New Zealand’s cooperatives and mutuals contribute to the county, through their development and empowerment of people, finding new ways to sustain growth in an uncertain and rapidly changing environment, and putting environmental and social impacts at the heart of their business.

These included awards for excellent consumer, employer, and health and safety practices, profitability over extended periods, and leadership of both social and environmental initiatives illustrated these contributions.

In Australia the 2016 National Mutual Economy Report showed a combined turnover for the top 100 Australian member owned businesses of $30.5 billion, with combined assets of $143.7 billion.

The Australian top 100 co-operative and mutual enterprises annual gross turnover grew by 4 per cent per annum in financial year 2014/15.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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