Co-operatives may have helped establish the natural foods retail business -- but they no longer own it. The small, locally owned and operated stores have seen their product lines and formats adopted by conventional retailers, including natural foods markets, conventional supermarkets and even Wal-Mart Stores. In the process, co-ops have lost substantial buying clout. In an effort to level the playing field and give the co-ops a better chance to compete in this evolving marketplace, a new ...

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