Producer-Owned Co-operatives, Consumers, and Purchasing Co-operatives

Producer-Owned Co-operatives

This principle can be clearly seen in three very different types of co-operative organizations: producer-owned co-operatives, consumer co-operatives, and purchasing co-operatives. 
The co-operative principle has a great deal to offer agricultural producers | |, who can use it to leverage better bargaining power from buyers. They also benefit by combining their resources for marketing and branding. 
Producer-owned co-operatives can be found in every area of agricultural production | |, from dairy to meat, poultry, cereal grains, vegetables and fruits, even fishing, forestry, and biofuel. 
Whatever the area of agriculture, these producers benefit from being able to engage in better marketing and advertising, which in turn helps them to get better deals for their products. The logic of the co-operative is powerful, not least because it gives the individual producer a corporate identity and brand to be a part of. 
These producer-owned co-operatives include | | such well-known brand names as SunKist, SunMaid, Blue Diamond, Ocean Spray, Riceland, and Land O’Lakes. 
Another type of co-operative is the consumer co-operative | |. These are organizations consisting of, and owned by, a pool of consumers who wish to use their collective purchasing power to obtain consumer goods. 
There is practically no limit to the types of consumer goods that can be purchased through a consumer co-operative. These co-operatives may provide such consumer goods as food or outdoors equipment, but credit unions | | are also a type of consumer co-operative, one which offers financial services. 
Credit unions | | are a highly specialized subtype of consumer co-operatives built on a model wherein everyone who deposits with them becomes both a member of the credit union and a partial owner. Every member-owner is eligible to attend an annual meeting and help to elect the credit union’s board of directors.  
Consumer co-operatives may also be formed for the purpose of purchasing health care services. The Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound | |, Seattle, Washington State, is a consumer-owned health management organization (HMO) with over 560,000 members. 
Purchasing co-operatives | |, also known as shared co-operatives, are associations of business owners or of governmental entities, i.e. municipalities and in some cases even state governments. 
These co-operatives are similar to both producer-owned co-operatives and consumer co-operatives in that they are formed to leverage buying power. By banding together, business or governmental entities can leverage their combined purchasing power for lower prices, which in turn increases their ability to provide services effectively. 
Purchasing cooperatives are found across the economy, in practically every sector imaginable. For example, the largest floor-covering retailer in the world is Carpet One | |, based in Saint Louis, Missouri – and it is a purchasing co-operative made up of 1,000 different retailers. 
These three kinds of co-operatives differ from each other in terms of their fundamental purposes for organizing, but all organize as co-operatives to get a better deal together than they could alone.  
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