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Co-ops Up the Ante

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Competition keeps food retailers on their toes — the successful ones, anyway. Sure, they do the shows and the share groups, but many times the danger isn’t coming from the store just like yours across the street. It’s the quick-serve deli around the corner, or the farmers’ market in the school parking lot on Sundays.

co-logo.gifIn other words, it’s critical that conventional foods retailers stretch a bit and look at alternate channels. Everyone’s heard of channel-blurring, and the recession exacerbated that activity as consumers scrambled to find the same foods at cheaper prices. Have you ever bought a can of all-white tuna in oil for 99-cents from a drug store?

Well, you can. And that’s the kind of sideways deal that supermarkets have to look out for.

To that point, the National Cooperative Grocers Association just launched a new website, StrongerTogether.coop. It’s easy to navigate, contains original content, addresses some of the top issues and concerns facing consumers and enjoys an active readership.

Sure, co-ops don’t directly compete with today’s 75,000-square-foot supermarket. That doesn’t mean retailers can’t learn from this segment. Co-ops are populated by core natural and organic consumers, and staffed by experts in community relations. The co-ops I have personally visited are quaint and neighborly, but that belies the pull they have on the local food scene… and we all know that local is one of the hottest trends right now.

Take a look at what co-ops are up to, and you’ll discover just how long they’ve been involved in the local food movement. And that’s just for a start. You might be surprised to learn of other areas where they've led the marketplace.

[Logo credit: NCGA]

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