Community Food Co-operatives

Community Food Co-operatives

The Community Food Co-operative Programme in Wales is encouraged and supported by the Rural Regeneration Unit  and funded by the Welsh Government.

The programme enables people to access fresh fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis at wholesale prices and can help a family achieve the recommended ‘5 A DAY’.

Co-op suppliers access as much local produce as possible which benefits local farmers. Sometimes local farmers themselves supply direct to the co-operatives and this means that more of the money customers spend is kept within the region and food miles are reduced.

A food co-op is an excellent way to bring the community together, people get to know each other and all sorts of other activities often develop as a result. Food co-ops can operate well in any community, Wales has successful co-ops in rural villages, valleys, towns and cities.

There is no membership or constitution required for a co-op and, in most cases, no need to source outside funding.
Customers can order as little or as much as they like and all the money taken goes directly to the supplier.

Food Development Workers assist communities wishing to start a food co-op, they provide free advice, support, basic equipment and a range of free training courses for volunteers and customers.

If anyone thinks that their community would benefit from having its own food co-op, or would like further information, then contact:

  • June Jones in North Wales on telephone number 01766 890637 or 07717 202215 or email [email protected]
  • Natalie Edwards in North-East Wales on telephone number 07772 109695 or email [email protected]
  • Karen Robertson in North-Central Wales on telephone number 07879 611670 or email [email protected]
  • Hannah James in South-Central Wales on telephone number 02920 232943 or 07717 205438 or email [email protected]
  • Richard Reast in South West Wales on telephone number 01443 402317 or 07918 715718 or email [email protected]
  • Abigail Morrison in West Wales on telephone number 07875 224718 or email [email protected]
  • Rebecca May in South-East Wales on telephone number 07807 003039 or email [email protected]
  • Mark Jones, Welsh Produce Manager on telephone number 01492 660263 or 07733 036585 or email [email protected]

The Community Food Co-operative Programme is managed by Debbie Neale, who can be contacted on telephone number 07854 259678 or at [email protected]

Volunteers from Happy Apple Community Food Cooperative

To find your nearest fruit and vegetable food co-op visit the Community Food Co-operative website.

Community Food Cooperatives Welsh Produce Update

Food co-op supply promotes Fair Trade at home

The Community Food Co-operative Programme in Wales provides quality, affordable fruit and vegetables to communities through sustainable local food distribution networks. The food co-ops work by linking local volunteers, who run the food co-ops, to a local supplier, who is a grower and/or local wholesaler. Approximately 30% are supplied direct by growers.

The recession, as well as encouraging more communities to start food co-ops, has also encouraged growers to diversify their market outlets. Many have embraced wholesale supply to food co-ops. There are also a significant number of livestock farmers who are starting to grow vegetables commercially as well as rearing meat.

Many growers are keen to sell direct to customers. Many of these are keen to supply food co-ops because, as with most wholesale sales, it is relatively quick and easy, but they can also develop a direct relationship with the customer. This is something that only normally comes with the more time-consuming retail sales such as farm shops, farmers markets and, to some extent, online selling.

The Rural Regeneration Unit is introducing additional Welsh produce to the more established fruit and vegetable food co-ops. This promotes further local links between customer and supplier and strengthens the sustainability of the food co-op. Additional produce might include eggs, bread, meat, fish, preserves and dairy produce.

There seems to be an increasing interest in supplying co-ops from growers and producers in all regions. Anyone interested in knowing more should have a look at the short film on the food co-ops website  or contact Mark Jones, Welsh Produce Manager on 01492 660263 or 07733 036585 or email [email protected]

Co-operatives Fortnight

The first ever UK Co-operatives Fortnight is ran from 19th June to 3rd July with the theme of “there is an alternative” and celebrates how co-operatives are a different way of doing business.

The campaign is held to promote co-operative working, where all involved jointly share in the benefits.

An example of how this is working well is through the Rural Regeneration Unit’s Community Food Co-operative Programme. Funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, a food co-op is a simple system through which people can access affordable, quality fresh fruit, vegetables and salad on a weekly basis at a local community venue. All money taken goes directly to the supplier with no profit made by the food co-op.

Local Flintshire suppliers Huson Produce have been successfully supplying food co-ops in the area for 5 years and work from their 14 acre family farm in Hawarden. They supply the food co-op in Higher Shotton who will be holding a promotional event on 30th June to showcase the produce available.

Also launched during this fortnight is the new Friday morning food co-op at Mancot Village Hall which offered free fruit smoothies at their opening event. Managed by local volunteers who take the orders and sort the produce for customers, the event was supported by many members of the community and also by Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami.

For more information about food co-ops in North East Wales please contact the Rural Regenerations Food Development Worker Karen Robertson on 07879 611 670 or [email protected].

Sustain Food Co-ops Website

Sustain’s Food Co-ops and Buying Groups programme, part of the Making Local Food Work programme have developed a food co-ops website.

Making Local Food Work is funded by the Big Lottery Fund as part of the Changing Spaces programme. The objective is to explore community enterprise approaches to: ‘reconnecting people and land through local food and increasing access to fresh, healthy, local food with clear, traceable origins’. The Making Local Food Work programme is run by a partnership of organisations.

The food co-ops website has been set up to enable people to find their nearest food co-op or gain help setting up a food co-op. it currently contains links to food co-ops in England and Scotland.

In Wales, the Community Food Cooperative Programme is encouraged and supported by the Rural Regeneration Unit and funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. Visit the Rural Regeneration Unit website to find community food cooperatives in Wales.