The past few years have been a watershed opportunity for food co-ops and for the wider co-operative movement. When the United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Co-ops, it brought unprecedented public attention to the co-operative business model. In the wake of continuing global recession, co-operative enterprise was showing itself to be a resilient business model that strengthened local economies, sustained jobs, and contributed to economic democracy. The central purpose of the Year was to shine a light on co-ops as effective tools for poverty reduction, social engagement, and food security, particularly in the context of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals.
In early 2013, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) launched a “Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade.” This ambitious vision acknowledges co-operatives as leaders in economic, social, and environmental sustainability, the preferred business model of people around the world, and consequently the fastest growing form of enterprise by 2020.