Other types of co-ops

Co-operatives can be categorised in more than one way, so it can be a little confusing at first. They can be defined according to their ownership structure and primary members, to the product or service the co-op offers, or to the activity they are engaged in.

Therefore the term food co-operative is used to describe any co-operative business that is involved in the production or supply of food. These may include:

  • Worker co-operatives - in which the members are the workers. These are businesses that are owned and controlled on a democratic basis by their employees. Many wholefood wholesalers and wholefood shops are run as workers co-operatives
  • Producer co-operatives - which are owned and controlled by farmers. These can be involved in producing, processing or marketing agricultural products; they might also supply agricultural inputs and services to their members.
  • Consumer co-operatives - in which the primary members are the co-operatives' customers. These types of co-operative can provide a variety of goods or services and can range from small groups of friends to large chains of retails outlets.

Our website and toolkit focuses on community-run food co-ops that operate on a not-for-profit basis. These are often set up as consumer co-operatives but may also run on a more informal basis. 

If you are interested in setting up another type of co-operative you can get more advice from Co-operatives UK.

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