Summit will look at the role of co-operatives in food security

10 Apr 2014

With the world population due to reach nine billion by 2050, food security remains a major issue on the global agenda. The International Summit of Co-operatives will be looking at how co-operatives could help increase food security.

The Summit will examine a 2013 study carried out by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC), which highlights how important it is for agricultural co-operatives to bolster their competitiveness so that they can successfully tackle the challenges they will face in the coming years.

Yves Pelle, associate at PwC France is who is part of a team that provides advice and audit services to agricultural co-operatives. At the International Summit of Co-operatives he will be presenting the findings of PwC’s report.

Mr Pelle believes that it is in the DNA of co-operatives to be concerned with climate change. As enterprises with a great emphasis on sustainable development, they are more likely to look for solutions for climate change than other enterprises, he thinks.

According to Mr Pelle, the role of agricultural co-operatives has changed throughout time. Apart from acting as an interface between producers and markets, agricultural co-operatives now need to revise their role and focus on improving production as well as on research and innovation.

As consumer behaviour changes, co-ops need to look at entering foreign markets, thinks Yves Pelle.

He gave the example of Fonterra, a milk co-operative from New Zeeland, which has become the world’s largest exporter of diary products.

Mr Pelle said that clients looking for a certain product of high quality were willing to invest abroad. For example, Synutra International, China’s third largest infant formula producer, signed an investment deal worth €100m with French diary co-operative Sodiaal, the fourth largest diary group in Europe.

President of Cogeca (European agri-cooperatives), Christian Pèes also thinks that innovation is key to addressing food security. Mr Pèes, who is also the President of Euralisone of the most successful agricultural co-operatives in France, will also be speaking at the Summit. Although he said that it was difficult to predict the impact of climate change, he explained how Euralis has gone from strength to strength by placing a strong emphasis on innovation and research.

With climate change in mind, Euralis is helping its members to make the best use of water, helping them to embrace technological developments.

“Innovation is crucial, it is the mother of all battles”, he said, adding that co-operatives will have to invest in genetic research.

He added that co-operatives needed to conduct research and find technological solutions that respond to these challenges, while providing them with guidance and advice.

Christian Pèes also thinks that the food sector requires more attention and cannot simply be left to the market’s laws. Co-operatives, he said, can afford to make choices that are more sustainable and take into account the future.

Photo: Christian Pèes


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