Assessing the performance of food co‐ops in the US

Food cooperatives (co-ops) as a key component of the local food network play an increasingly important role in the US food system. Co-ops use various strategies to promote local products, ensure a greater commitment of members, and the rofitability and sustainability of the business. This paper assessed the effectiveness of these strategies as perceived and appreciated by co-ops' members using survey data from a national study on eight large food cooperatives in the U.S. The survey identifies a wide range of attributes related to store and product characteristics, and marketing and management strategies. It asks interviewees to rank their co-op on these attributes on a Likert-scale of 0-4. Using Principal Component Analysis, we aggregate and combine information from the large number of rankings into a six major categories. Next, exploiting the hierarchical structure of the data with members nested within their respective co-ops, we use Hierarchical Linear Modeling methods to identify the factors that determine the perceived performance of co-ops. The results show that in general member has a strong positive perception of the performance of their co-ops in term of quality of the products, quality of the management and the service, and the physical quality of the store. We also find there is a lot heterogeneity among co-ops and member socio-demographic and economic characteristics are strongly correlated with their perception.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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