The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a co-operative federation bringing together over 30 food co-ops and start-up initiatives that are working together toward a shared vision of a thriving co-operative economy, rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable regional food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise.
The NFCA includes over 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England (click here for a map of member locations).
Our co-ops are member-owned and democratically governed community grocery stores ranging in size from large, multiple storefront retailers with thousands of members to smaller markets with just a few hundred. Most of these co-ops have been in operation for more than 20 years with some being founded in the 1930s and ‘40s. Despite the challenges of the current economy, many of our member co-ops are expanding and new stores have opened their doors in just the past few years. In 2013, more than 10,000 people joined our member co-ops.
Food co-ops have been leaders in the development of natural, organic, local, Fair Trade and Domestic Fair Trade food movements in our region and across the country.
Shared Economic Impact
Together, the member co-ops of the NFCA have a combined membership of more than 90,000, employ over 1,700 people, and have annual revenue of $255 million (2013). An independent study found that in 2007, when the NFCA was comprised of just 17 co-ops, the association already had a dramatic impact on the regional economy, including:
Support of Local Economies…
- Median revenue for member co-ops was $3 million and the average was $9.5 million. The median growth rate over the previous three years was 14%.
- Purchases of more than $33 million in local products, including $10 million in fresh farm products, $18 million in locally-processed foods and $5 million in other products.
Stable Employment and Services…
- $28.6 million in employee wages, with the average wage being 18% higher than the average for food and beverage stores in the same states.
- Co-ops had lower staff turnover (36%) when compared to supermarkets (59%) and more staff employed fulltime (62% compared to 43% in supermarkets).
- Taken together, member food co-ops in Vermont would be among the top 25 employers in the state.
Support of Local Government and Infrastructure…
- …including $7.3 million in sales, excise, and other taxes, $434,000 by employees, and $500,000 in property taxes.
What We’re Doing
The members of the NFCA are working together to measure our economic and social impact, conduct education, outreach and sourcing activities that benefit our members, and partner with likeminded organizations to advance shared goals.
A focus of the NFCA is using our shared purchasing power to increase our regional impact. A central example is our "Farm to Freezer" program, a line of frozen frozen fruits and vegetables grown, processed and distributed here in the Northeast, and available only at our member food co-ops.
Partnerships & Networks
The NFCA has collaborated with groups across the region such as the Northeast Organic Farming Association, the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and Vermont’s Farm to Plate initiative. Our association is an affiliate member of the New England Farmers Union, reflecting our shared commitment to a healthy regional food system, family farming and co-operative enterprise as a tool for community ownership, sustainable agriculture and economic resilience.
The NFCA supports the success of our member co-ops in collaboration with partners including National Co+op Grocers, the Cooperative Fund of New England, and Food Co-op Initiative, and is an example of the principle of co-operation among co-ops, which recognizes that "co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures." In addition to working together as food co-ops, we partner with co-operative enterprises across sectors such as Organic Valley, Cabot Creamery, Deep Root Organic Co-op, Real Pickles and the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops to grow the Co-operative Economy of our region.